By Ed Coghlan
When the world’s most charismatic golfer won the British Open, an issue near and dear to Phil Mickelson received a lot of exposure because of his stunning win at Muirfield.
For the past nine years, Mickelson and his wife Amy have been promoting the importance of STEM, an acronym for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Coalition. People who study workforce development believe that a stronger emphasis on teaching math and science in schools will help prepare today’s youth for the jobs of the 21st century. The Mickelsons have partnered with Exxon Mobil in creating a teacher’s academy, and he spent last week in New York talking about it.
Mickelson, who is about as good at handling the media as any professional athlete, was pairing his work with the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy with a great story on the Dan Patrick Show Friday about his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.
As Mickelson tells it, Mackay was about to finish college when he had a math course that was required at Columbus College in Georgia. As he took his final exam, by the second question Mackay knew that he had no chance of passing the test. So “Bones” wrote on his test that he promised never to use math in his life if the professor would somehow see fit to pass him on the course and allow him to graduate.
Bones received a D and was able to graduate.
Years later, Mickelson says, they are playing at a tournament in Atlanta and he and Bones are going over a shot, working on yardage and figuring out what club Mickelson should hit.
All of a sudden from the gallery comes the bellowing voice of a fan who says, “You lied to me! You lied to me!”
Turns out it was Bones’ math teacher from college, who could see that the caddie was using math in his job.
The story generated some pretty good laughs, and not surprisingly let Mickelson adeptly pivot to the importance of math education and his academy.
Then to round off a pretty good week where he was in the news but didn’t have to hit one golf shot after winning the British Open, Sunday, Mickelson rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange where he was photographed holding the Claret Jug.
Mickelson is back on the tour this week at the fabled Firestone Country Club in Akron, where he’ll be one of the favorites in the Bridgestone Invitational. Then it’s off to Oak Hill in Rochester, New York for the PGA Championship, the last of the year’s four majors.
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