Why Phil Mickelson Was Sometimes Called 'Figjam'

Phil Mickelson thumb's up sign
Phil Mickelson flashes that grin and his thumbs-up sign. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

What is golf superstar Phil Mickelson's nickname? When one is applied to the golfer, it is usually "Lefty." Sometimes Mickelson is called "Philly Mick."

And sometimes, he is called "FIGJAM." Say what? Actually, Mickelson is rarely called that anymore, except by those few golf fans who hold out as Mickelson detractors. Given that Mickelson is today one of the most popular figures in golf, such detractors aren't common.

But FIGJAM remains a well-known — infamous, really — nickname for Mickelson, even if not that many golfers and fans still use it.

What 'FIGJAM' Means

FIGJAM is an acronym (hence the all-caps). We can't spell out exactly what FIGJAM stands for because the first word is a profanity: the F-word.

So here's the expurgated version of the meaning of FIGJAM:

F--- I'm Good Just Ask Me

The Origins of FIGJAM

Mickelson was once a much more polarizing figure in golf. While he was, from almost the time he arrived on the scene in the early 1990s, one of the sport's most popular golfers, over the first half of his career he also seemed to irk quite a few golf fans — and some of his fellow golfers.

And any time a new, young hotshot arrives on the golf scene — especially one with swagger, one with cockiness, one whose goofy grin and sometimes-goofy earnestness can be mistaken for insincerity — some of the older golfers are not going to react well to that new kid on the block.

So while the majority of golf fans have always loved Lefty, earlier in his career Mickelson rubbed some of his fellow pros the wrong way. It was those PGA Tour pros — the ones who found the young Mickelson too cocky — who coined the nickname FIGJAM.

How FIGJAM as a Nickname for Phil Mickelson Came to Light

The FIGJAM monicker (insult, really) broke into the public consciousness early in 2006, thanks to an article in the magazine GQ. The article was entitled "The Ten Most Hated Athletes." It was a shock to many fans to see Mickelson, someone whose public persona was (and is) so cheerful, someone loved by so many fans, show up on a list like that. But there Mickelson was, as No. 8 "most hated" by his peers, the magazine claimed.

And it was that article that explained FIGJAM to the masses. Here is some of what that GQ article said:

"Last August at the PGA Championship at Baltusrol, in New Jersey, a reporter turned to a golfer on the tour and said of Phil Mickelson, 'Man, the fans here love Phil.' The golfer replied, 'They don't know him the way we do.' It blew our minds a little when we heard this, since Mickelson ranks among the most admired golfers in America. But today the same reporter makes his case bluntly: 'Phil Mickelson literally has no friends out there. He annoys everybody.'
"Mickelson has earned many nicknames on the Tour, but our favorite is FIGJAM ... 'There are a bunch of pros who think he and his whole smiley, happy face are a fraud,' another reporter says. 'They think he's preening and insincere.' "

That Was Then, Phil Is Now

Even if the GQ article was accurate at the time it was written (debatable) about Mickelson's reputation among his peers, it's now been a long time since Mickelson was anything other than largely popular with other players.

Mickelson has grown into a senior statesman on the PGA Tour. And over time, what some earlier viewed as insincerity or a calculatedness on Mickelson's part came to be recognized as simply a goofy playfulness in Lefty. He's almost as popular today with his fellow golfers as he is with golf fans, and he's a five-time major championship winner.