Maybe it was her big brown eyes and sweet demeanor, or maybe itâ€™s because Phil Mickelson has two daughters of his own.
Whatever the reason, when the No. 3 golfer in the world, olâ€™ Lefty himself, gave four-year old Mallary Harkey his Callaway HX Tour Prototype ball, he authored a memory that will last forever.
Mickelson, who is known for his class and humility, was making his way from hole No. 3 to No. 4 at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte on Wednesday. Several times earlier in the day, he had told Mallary he would sign her flag at the end.
Having made eye contact with her numerous times, Mickelson easily spotted Mallary standing just beneath the rope that separates fans from players.
â€œHe said, â€˜Here sweetheart,â€™ handing her the ball and went onto No. 4 and we were still standing there in shock,â€ said Danya Harkey, Mallaryâ€™s mother.
It all began when Andy Yarber, of Yarber Incorporated, invited Mallaryâ€™s parents, Danya and Jamie Harkey, and her grandfather, Scott Harkey, to attend the Wachovia Championship.
The Harkeys are a golfing family, which made the â€˜Mickelson experienceâ€™ even more special. At one time, Scott Harkey held the course record at Lincoln Country Club with a score of 60 when the club was just nine holes. In addition to that achievement, heâ€™s also been club champion in Lincolnton, Cherryville and Maiden.
Scott also has a 28 to his credit in nine holes, playing in senior club championship at Lincoln Country Club. His son, Jamie, is preparing to play at the North Carolina Amateur at Mimosa Hills Country Club in Morganton.
Danya and Jamie have spent some Sunday afternoons watching the PGA on television.
â€œEvery time there is a golf tournament that is close, we always go,â€ Danya said. â€œWeâ€™ve been to Charlotte and my husband has been to watch the seniors at the Rock Barn.â€
The ball that was squeezed into the four-year oldâ€™s tiny hand is not one that can purchased in the store, a fact not missed by Mallaryâ€™s father.
â€œThat tore me up because you canâ€™t even buy those golf balls. They go so much further than the ones you can buy off the shelf,â€ said Jamie Harkey. â€œI wish I could buy a dozen of them right now.â€
While receiving a golf ball from 2004 Masterâ€™s Champion would have been enough, Mickelson also made good on his word about signing her flag. After his round, Mickelson made a beeline over to Mallary and signed her 2005 Wachovia Championship flag.
Mallary, who went with her parents to see her favorite player, Tiger Woods, hasnâ€™t changed allegiance due to Mickelsonâ€™s generosity.
â€œBecause heâ€™s (Tiger) the best champion. Yeah I like him, but my mommy likes Phil. I like Tiger,â€ she said.
The 6â€™2â€ San Diego native wasnâ€™t the only signature the family left with on Wednesday. Jay Haas, Todd Hamilton, Charles Howell III, David Toms, Justin Rose, Stuart Appleby and Sergio Garcia also signed the flag.
Garcia currently is among the first-round leaders at six-under.
For a golf-crazy family in Lincoln County, Mickelson proved once again why his golfing legacy is measured far more than just how many wins he records.
â€œHe was being nice,â€ said Mallory. â€œIâ€™ll remember it forever; and especially now when I see him on TV, Iâ€™ll be thinking I got one of his balls he actually plays with sitting in my house.â€
by John Mark Brooks