The time Phil stiffed Koepka’s autograph request
April 09, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Phil Mickelson once stiffed Brooks Koepka’s autograph request as a kid. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Brooks Koepka was just a kid, 8 or 9 years old, when he first attended the Masters in the late ‘90s. He was hanging out by the range and somehow wandered – illegally -- into Augusta National’s parking lot, where he saw Phil Mickelson, who was still a few years away from winning his first Masters.
Koepka asked for an autograph.
Mickelson said no.
“Probably about the only kid Phil’s ever turned down,” Koepka recalled Tuesday.
“Well, he shouldn’t have been there,” Mickelson retorted a few hours later.
“Fair enough,” noted Koepka.
The story was not broached until five years ago when Koepka and Mickelson were playing a practice round together at the Open Championship. It was finally time for Koepka to say something.
“I had to tell him,” Koepka said. “I was like, ‘Listen, man, you stiffed me, and I really didn't like you for a long time.’”
Mickelson, obviously, didn’t remember the incident – to which Koepka feigned surprise.
“I can't believe he doesn't remember the first time he ever said no to a kid, signing an autograph,” joked Koepka.
They can both laugh about it now, especially since the two are established stars. Mickelson is a World Golf Hall of Famer; Koepka is the PGA TOUR’s reigning Player of the Year. Mickelson has won three Masters; Koepka has won three of the last seven majors. Combined, they’ve won eight majors.
The fact that Koepka has grown up to become a friend and competitor is not lost on Mickelson, who at 48 years old is 20 years older than his fellow PGA TOUR member.
“When reporters ask you about stuff like that, it makes me feel old, sure, so thank you for bringing that up,” Mickelson said. “It's fun for me to play with these young guys and to see their game develop."
“It's actually fun stories that a guy like Brooks Koepka -- who's won, what, three majors now recently -- has been out here following as a kid. It's a little weird but it's pretty cool, too, and to be able to play with him and see his greatness shine and to be a somewhat part of that or a witness to it as well as compete against it, it's been fun."
“I enjoy that. There's a lot of good, young players like that that I have a lot of respect for that were barely born, or if not, weren't born when I started playing the TOUR.”
Koepka said he finally got Mickelson’s autograph. And Mickelson even has Koepka’s autograph on Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup memorabilia, as they’ve been together on the last three American teams.
“I did it in the appropriate location,” Mickelson said with a smile.
As for Koepka, he did well as a kid collecting autographs that week at the Masters, about 50 signatures in all. He keeps that in mind as he goes through the autograph line now.
“As a player now, you want to sign for a little kid,” said Koepka, who missed last year’s Masters due to an injury. “It's hard to say no to a little kid.”
Unless, of course, the kid is hanging out in the players’ parking lot.