Autographs can be a divisive issue for athletes. Arnold Palmer believed signing for fans was a responsibility; others treat the exercise like a trip to the proctologist. In the golf world, Phil Mickelson leans towards the former end of the spectrum. But no matter how many ‘Herbie Hancocks’ he gives to the masses, there will always be a host of fans who miss out and feel slighted. And, at last one of those times, the slighted featured a three-time Major champion.
Speaking in Austin on Tuesday before the WGC-Dell Match Play, Jordan Spieth was asked if he ever got brushed for an autograph as a kid. The 24-year-old’s answer did not disappoint.
“There was a time that I was out, I think at the Byron Nelson with my dad and Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III were on the putting green. And I was yelling at them, as I now get annoyed while I’m practising when I’m getting yelled at, and they were talking and they said, ‘One second.’
“And when they finished, Phil was pulled off in a different direction and Davis came and signed for me. And I thought for the longest time that Phil just blew me off. And Davis was the nicest guy. And Phil, I didn’t care for as much for a little while because of that.”
Good job, Phil. You doused the warmth of a poor child’s heart with that icy demeanour.
Spieth elaborated that, looking back, Mickelson was likely honouring a sponsor or media obligation. Of course, when Spieth mentioned the story to Phil, he was given a very Phil-like response.
“I knew who you were, and I didn’t want to go over there and sign it,” Spieth relayed.
Keep this interaction in mind if the duo find themselves batting this weekend at the Match Play – or on the back nine at Augusta National in two weeks.