TORREY PINES, Calif. — Golfers tossing balls to little kids standing along the ropes as they walk by is a fairly routine sight at any golf tournament. Phil Mickelson took it to a new level Thursday in the middle of Round 1 of the U.S. Open.
Walking between the 14th green and 15th tee, his first nine of the day, Mickelson spotted a kid in a highlighter-green T-shirt and tossed him his ball. Thing was, the little kid — 10-year old Grayden Jackel — was standing next to his buddy, 7-year old Santi Ulloa, who was visibly bummed.
“Don’t worry,” Mickelson said in stride, “I’ll get you in a couple holes.”
Fifteen minutes later, after parring the 15th, Mickelson spotted the duo, walked right over to Santi. Despite the fact that Santi was sporting a pin with Tiger Woods' picture on it, Mickelson handed him a ball of his own.
Due to COVID protocols, golfers are not allowed to sign autographs. No worries for Grayden and Santi. They got something much better.
Mickelson, who just won the PGA Championship last month, is in search of a U.S. Open championship to complete the career Grand Slam. But he got off to a rocky start, bogeying three of his first seven holes to fall five strokes off the lead. Still, he remains a fan favorite, and Grayden and Santi can tell you exactly why.
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