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Phil Mickelson - Visualize Your Victory, with Ed Mylett

Updated: Jan 27, 2023



As a successful businessman, fellow left-handed golfer, and in general, Ed Mylett pronounces the utmost respect for Phil in how he carries himself as a Husband, Father, Friend, and his general demeanor towards treating other people.

Mylett on Mickelson: "There is no more articulate person in the game of golf," which proved to be the case throughout the course of the episode, as Phil opens up on nearly all aspects of life.

Question from Ed Mylett, relayed from his son who is currently playing college golf:

  • "What's the difference between the 50th ranked player in the world, and the 1st ranked player in the world"

Answer from Phil: immediately begins describing an example of how he told a young Amateur player of a drill which he used to practice to improve his short putting: make 100 three footers in a row. Phil checked back in on the Amateur a few weeks later to ask him how the progress was, to which the Amateur responded, "ahhh it was okay, I kind of made it to maybe around 50ish and stopped."

That's the difference between the best in the world - "I was willing to do whatever it took, however long it took, versus those who don't have the willpower who see things through."

Being the best in the world at something, is having the mindset of doing what you have to do, and doing whatever it takes to get there.

The difference between the #50 on tour and the #1 on tour is also going to be their ability to visualize shots and outcomes.

In general, across all industries and walks of life, people who are able to visualize the clearest are the ones who typically rise to the top.

Everybody can execute, but do you have the ability to visualize your goals and how to get there.

Mylett makes the connection that even in his experience in coaching entrepreneurs, it's amazing how vague people are in describing their goals. If you don't have specific goals and the visualization of how to accomplish them, you will remain in the same place.

Phil mentions that visualization & mental preparation are just as important, if not more important, than just physical preparation.

Phil references a study conducted by Dr. Biasiotto from the University of Chicago, who split people into 3 groups and tested each group on how many free throws they made.

The FIRST group practiced free throws every day for an hour.

The SECOND group only visualized themselves making free throws.

The THIRD group did nothing.

After 30 days, Dr. Biasiotta tested the 3 groups again.

The FIRST group (which practiced free throws every day for an hour) improved by 24%.

The SECOND group (which only visualized making free throws) improved by 23% without even touching a basketball!

The THIRD group did not improve which was expected.

Phil relates this study who a time period just before the 2003 Masters Tournament, where he wasn't hitting the ball well at the time. Instead of hitting balls and becoming further consumed by the physical aspect of the sport, the 5 days prior to the tournament beginning, Phil was at home mentally rehearsing and preparing, and ultimately placed 3rd at the 2003 Masters.

Your mind gravitates toward what it is most familiar with - if you are obsessed with the failure involved in a pursuit, then you will gravitate towards the failure.

The modern Athletes are starting to become more like CEO's - that is the mentality - you are your own brand.

Phil ties this concept back to visualization as CEO's have a keen vision and focus which enables them to see things and conceptualize the way others aren't, and from there they understand exactly what to implement in order to attain their visualized goal.

Ed Mylett: "Has your career turned out the way that you thought it would"

Answer from Phil: "It's very close to where I would have thought - I certainly thought I would have won all 4 majors - unfortunately still missing the US Open which I've come in 2nd place six times"

Phil was playing on the PGA Tour for 13 years before breaking through and winning his first Major Championship - Ed Mylett, "What was the patience required - did you ever have doubts?"

Answer from Phil: "There was a turning point. During those 13 years, I never doubted that I would win a major, but something has to click in order to put you over the top in a major championship."

Phil attributes this breakthrough to adjusting his approach on preparation:

Before the 2004 Masters, Phil was working with Dave Pelz at the time and they went to Augusta 3 days early to work on a different style of preparation. The idea was to become as familiar as possible with the Major championship courses to the point where they felt like your home course.

  • Planned certain shots to certain pin locations and other areas around the course based on scenarios of real-time ball striking and playing performance, course conditions, etc.

Phil won the 2004 Masters by sinking an 18 foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the tournament to win by one stroke over runner-up Ernie Els.

Capital One - THE MATCH. Tiger versus Phil, Thanksgiving weekend 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

  • Really the first even of its kind, a head-to-head match at Shadow Creek Golf Course, where Phil earned a narrow victory over Tiger after 4 playoffs hole to claim the entirety of the $9 million purse.

This event helped pave the way for similar events, including an event where Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady teamed up against Tiger Woods and Payton Manning in an event titled "The Match: Champions for Charity," ultimately raising $20 million for coronavirus relief and providing a whole lot of entertainment in the process.

Ed moves on to make mention of a previous interview with Dominick Cruz (American mixed martial artist), who mentions during their interview that "there are a handful of moments in your life that can define you." Ed seconds this notion, and that if you are habitual in your preparation you will likely have a few of these moments.

Ed recalls the period when Phil had been on the PGA Tour for 13 years and had yet to win a major, and alludes to the pressure of the expectation of being a great player his entire life. Many people at the time were referring to Mickelson as, "the best player to never win a major."

All of the sudden, you arrive at the 72nd hole of the 2004 Masters Tournament, standing over an 18 footer to win your first Major Championship.

What goes on in that moment - what do you do, what is your thought process (or lack thereof) to execute under that kind of pressure?!

Answer from Phil: "it all comes back to the visualization - I stood behind that putt and visualized the ball going in over and over and over, absorbed the feeling of that of the anticipated stroke, maintained the feeling and sense of what it feels like to create the stroke and the roll necessary for the ball to go into the hole, and translate that to the shot."

Phil on visualization and its application within high-performance golf:

"Visualize the shot, see the way you want the ball to fly, reference prior shots and practice. My goal is really trying to make golf a reactionary sport, similar to basketball how you look at the back of the hoop. In golf, see and feel the shot, then feel intrinsically what it takes to create that shot. If you lose it that feeling at any point of your pre-shot routine, back away."

Phil prefers and embodies this approach, rather than having a series of conscious thoughts during his pre-shot routine and throughout the course of a round.

Ed Mylett asks, "Does fear ever creep in, of some type, in any way, shape or form? Do you experience fear when you are out there?"

Answer from Phil: "You cannot play fearful. You can't visualize what you don't want to have happen. Refocus on what you want to have happen. When things go bad, people have the inability to control & regroup their thoughts."

It's incredibly important to be able to recognize when you are being negative, understand what may or may not be causing those thoughts, and refocusing on your fundamentals & constructive patterns.

Phil believes that "meditation is the best way to practice this, because you have to focus your thoughts on the specific thing you are trying to focus on - you have to be able to block out external / negative thoughts at will."

He continues on the practicality of this concept by relating it to performance on the golf course, and expresses that he doesn't focus on "trying to 'fix' the previous swing (which puts you in a position of working out of the past and/or out of the negative), but instead be present in the moment, feel & adjust to the current circumstances, and execute from there.

In 2006, Phil was in the position to win on Sunday afternoon at the US Open, a title which he needed to win in order to complete the career Grand Slam. He bogeyed the 16th hole, made par on the 17th hole, and as Ed describes, "if he pars the 18th hole he probably goes on to win the US Open."

As many are familiar with, Phil missed his drive to the left and proceeded to hit a tree on his second shot in an attempt to advance his ball near the green. He proceeded to make a double-bogey 6 and lost the championship - Mylett recalling after the round actually physically hurting for Phil because of how devastating and heartbreaking a series of events it was. Specifically referenced was Phil speaking to himself, "I'm such an idiot."

Mylett then poses the question: "How do you come back from a tragic event like that?"

Phil acknowledges this one but elaborates later in the show, and instead proposes his 2013 US Open performance at Merion, where he lost by a shot or two to Justin Rose, and for the next week he was really down in the dumps because among other things, he was already 43 and felt as though it was an incredibly strong opportunity to break through and win a US Open.

After falling just short once again at the 2013 US Open, Phil went away with his family for 7-10 days, and towards the end of the hiatus around the 8th or 9th day, he came to the realization that although he didn't win, he was still playing some really good golf and needed to capitalize on the present moment & the momentum.

From there, he embarked on a journey resulting in what he considers to be "probably one of my greatest accomplishments."

  • Traveled to Europe to play in the Scottish and British Open (Open Championship)

  • Won the Scottish Open

  • Proceeded to win The Open Championship by 3 strokes over Henrik Stenson

This emphasizes, Phil believes, the necessity of putting failures behind you because they are bound to happen, and keep moving forward as the next success is right around the corner - and the successes always make up for it.

Question: "Do you savor the wins more than you lament the losses?"

Phil: "I certainly hate to lose more than I love to win, which motivates me to work harder with the failures that I have. However, as I look back, I really try to cherish all of the positive moments during my career, as it's important to appreciate and be grateful for having those moments."

Proceeds to recall the 2006 US Open:

"The one failure that I will look back on, is the 2006 US open at Winged Foot, but it wasn't the drive that I was most upset with, I was having issues getting off the tee all week anyway, it was the second shot that didn't get around the tree."

"I really just needed to get the ball up and around the green because my short game was the best it has ever been in that moment, but instead I proceeded to push the 3 iron about two yards left which caused the ball to clip the tree, and the rest was history."

Ed references the general perceptions of business leaders, and leaders in across all walks of life, that there is a certain intensity about them. Tiger was intense, Ed mentions that he himself can be a little intense, etc. "Phil, you always seem to be enjoying the moment and tend to appear more loose than others - how are you able to do this and maintain a high level of performance?"

Phil: "Part of this is just a general disposition, part of this can be perceived as a tactic."

  • Mentions that he's learned over the years that he plays better when he is more open and talkative, part of this learning process was arriving at Major Championships overly determined and and overly tight, and it didn't work out in his favor for quite some time.

  • Tries to take mind off of things in-between shots, then regathers when it's time to apply his skill to the golf ball, and engages in this cycle throughout the course of the round.

Question from Ed: "Do you love golf? I understand there's a couple different components with professional athletes, there's the general sentiment towards competing, and general sentiment towards the sport. Do you genuinely love golf and can you speak to both aspects?"


  • I love the competition

  • I love golf in general, whether it be with friends or in solitude, I love every element that the game provides

  • I need golf in my life because I need something to consume my thoughts, if I didn't have something positive consuming my thoughts there would be too much room and opportunity for negative

  • Golf is a 4-5 hour meditation experience, which always gives you something to think about: new strategies, different golf club combinations, etc (Phil has won a majors on separate occasions having 0, 1, and 2 drivers in the bag)

  • Golf is an incredible combination of competition, comradery, solitude, and a great living

  • Golf is a healthy obsession

(~Minute 32 - Keep in mind this was recorded just prior to Phil turning 50 years old in 2020)

Ed references that he's seen countless people who win their first tournament, first major, first big check, first business success, etc. and that's the last you ever hear from them - people tend to fall off once they have achieved success. Whereas Phil, now 50, appears to be hungrier than ever for that next success & win, no matter how big or small.

"What causes a 50 year old guy who has already cemented his place in history to still be so driven and hungry for continued success?"

Phil: "It's not the money that drives me - I have been fortunate to have earned a decent living from early on. What really keeps me going is the challenge of being able to do things that others can't. The harder something is to achieve, the more work ethic is required, and the more rewarding the ultimate outcome is."

Phil expresses the areas in which he is constantly striving to improve: eating better, taking care of myself better, nutrition and overall fitness.

Ed ties this back to success in whatever you are doing in life, "BUSINESS HAS NO AGE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE 16 OR IF YOU ARE 55, YOU CAN STILL WIN!"

INTERMITTENT FASTING - Phil fasts every Monday - Tuesday for 36 hours so that his body can reset each week.

"Are you and Tiger Woods really friends now? Can you really be that close with your rival?"

Response from Phil:

  • There are going to be points where we have a contention

  • I always have and always will have respect for Tiger because of what he has done for the game of golf and (indirectly) for my family - whether that be through drastically increasing the ratings and the off-course opportunities

  • Recalls a time where around roughly 1991, the entire purse for a PGA tour event was ~$1 million - Tiger comes along in ~1996 and all the sudden you're competing for a first place check of ~$1M+ ever since

  • Tiger brought golf onto the front page, and Phil believes that he has benefitted more than anybody

Phil explains that their friendship strengthened when they were working together for the Ryder Cup in 2016, coming up with game plans and course strategy for Team USA. "When you work together for a common goal, that really makes you closer."

Question: "If you were both playing your A game at the peak of your respective careers, who would win, in a head-to-head matchup: YOU or Tiger Woods?"

Phil goes both ways in his answer, but starts in explaining that during the 2000 US Open was when he was questioning whether an outright win against Tiger was possible or not. Phil believes where he gained an edge on Tiger during the course of their careers was in the following methodology:

  • "In golf, there are a million ways to be successful, and you need to choose one, stick to it, and work down the path."

  • When Tiger began switching instructors and methodologies, he began to move laterally, and that's when Phil began to really believe that he could beat him.


Phil's father was a fighter pilot, instructor at top gun, assigned to the blue angels, and was a commercial pilot. He had a confidence about him, but he never talked about it and was incredibly humble. Phil feels as though this quality transferred over to the entire family. Every Mickelson is happy for each others success, which is a large part of the recipe in their strong bonds & relationships as a family.

Phil's brother has the ability as a caddy to align playing performance with golf course management in order to guide his players toward the best score possible.

Phil and Amy have been together for 27 years. "To be successful in anything, it's easy to become very self-centered and disengaged in what's going on around us. Amy has done a wonderful job of balancing everything, keeping me engaged, raising the family, and getting the job done."

"Hey Phil, what has made you special?"

--- " I will do whatever it takes to succeed. When I was 8 years old, I knew I wanted to play golf but didn't have the resources necessary to succeed. So again, when I was 8, I went down to the municipal golf course and got a job, picking the range 3 nights a week, and the days that I wasn't working I was playing and practicing. When I was 12, I worked at a different course and held that job all the way through high school, which enabled me the opportunity and resources to be able to play the necessary golf to help me reach the next level. I was willing to do whatever it took to be successful - a lot of people have talent, but not everybody is willing to do whatever it takes."

"What would be your advice to an entrepreneur?"

--- "You have to surround yourself with people who see your vision and support you. Steve Loy is my golf coach who has supported me in my goals, my wife has supported me in my goals. Not everybody is going to see and believe in what you see and believe. You need to surround yourself by people who support you, and then lift each other up."

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