Fan Favorite Phil Mickelson returns to Valley

slider phil-autographsThe professional golfer with the most total earnings at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with over $2.5 million in winnings is Phil Mickelson. And he is back and as motivated as ever, set to tee-off from the TPC Scottsdale for the 23rd consecutive year.

“I think everybody is excited to get here to Phoenix, and the fact that we’re going to have some great weather, this is a tournament that the guys who play here just love and look forward to it every year,” said Mickelson after the WM Phoenix Open Silver Pro-am on Wednesday.

For the pro-am, Mickelson was paired up with NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith as well as three others.

“We had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed playing with him,” mentioned Mickelson. “He’s a guy that’s extremely successful in everything that he does; whether it’s playing in the NFL and being in the Hall of Fame or dancing, he’s great.”

As a former Arizona State Sun Devil, Mickelson always feels a sense of community when he and his family arrive in the Valley for the open. 

“It is fun for me to come back here because the people have treated me so well through the years, and I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I’ve been out of college,” said Mickelson. “I still feel a community vibe here and the way people have treated us have been awesome.”

Mickelson tee’s off to start his 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open round Thursday at 8:15 a.m. from the 10th tee along with other tour stand-outs, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson

For continuing 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open coverage, follow Jared Cohen on Twitter at @JaredPros2Preps.