Tim Mickelson departs ASU after 5 years as golf coach

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                </div>  Saying he has “lost the passion and energy” to continue on as the Arizona State men’s golf coach, Tim Mickelson stepped down yesterday from the position he has held […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Saying he has “lost the passion and energy” to continue on as the Arizona State men’s golf coach, Tim Mickelson stepped down yesterday from the position he has held for the past five years.

During his time at the helm of the Sun Devil program, one of the most successful in the nation, Mickelson led the team to a pair of top-10 national finishes and coached Jon Rahm to becoming the recipient of back-to-back Ben Hogan Awards, making the young Spaniard the only two-time winner of the prestigious award.

Rahm became somewhat of a local celebrity when he received a sponsor’s exemption to get into the field for the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open and then stunned everyone by shooting a 12-under score that tied him for fifth place – just three strokes behind the winner.

Mickelson, who played three years of his college eligibility at ASU, replaced Randy Lein in 2011 after Lein had directed the program for 19 years, making him the longest-tenured head golf coach in ASU history.  Lein had taken the program to 18 NCAA Championship appearances in those 19 years, which tied ASU with Florida for second-most in the nation behind Oklahoma.

But during his final three seasons at ASU, Lein’s teams went from a fifth-place conference finish in 2008 to a tie for eighth the next year, and finally ninth in his last year.

His contract was not renewed for 2011 and the Sun Devils plucked Mickelson from the University of San Diego, where he had taken that program from being a perennial also-ran to a top national contender.  During the final three years of his eight-year run in charge of the Toreros’ program, his teams finished among the top 20 teams in the nation and set a school record of five tournament victories during the 2009-10 season.

As a result, he was named the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year four times.

When he got to ASU, his teams continued winning tournaments.  In the 2015 season, that squad put together three straight tournament wins – the first time that had happened in almost 20 years.

That was also the year that his program enjoyed some additional national attention when he brought his brother on board as an assistant coach.  That would be Phil Mickelson, one of the most popular, and successful, golfers on the PGA tour.

‘Lefty’ had agreed to join in and help with the recruiting efforts by accepting the ‘honorary’ assistant coach title.  But, with limited time due to his PGA travel schedule and event commitments, he wasn’t able to give his younger brother (by 7 years) help with things like making travel arrangements and other administrative duties that an assistant coach would normally handle.  So, after a couple of months, Phil returned to his regular job after joking to the media that his brother had “fired”him.

The idea was short-lived, but the exposure for the program was priceless.

Finding a new head coach should be no problem for the administration.  The ASU job is generally considered one of the most coveted in college golf.

The Sun Devil men’s program has made 52 NCAA Championship appearances during its more than 80 years of existence, which is fourth-best among all D-I schools.  Its record of seven NCAA regional titles is second only to Clemson.

Last season’s ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships was its 13th top-10 placements in the past 24 years.

Mickelson has said he will pursue “other business opportunities outside of the college athletics world” but didn’t specify what that will include.

A national search is underway for his successor, who will become the program’s 14th head coach.  In the interim, assistant coach Judd Easterling will hold down the fort.