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Ko, Donald Seek To Be Like Phil

Luke Donald has made a management change and will be represented at his new agency by Phil Mickelson's longtime agent Steve Loy. (Michael Cohen, USGA)
Luke Donald has made a management change and will be represented at his new agency by Phil Mickelson’s longtime agent Steve Loy.
(Michael Cohen, USGA)

With his Open Championship victory last summer at Muirfield, Phil Mickelson elevated his already lofty status in the game. Two developments this week further underscore Lefty’s singular sway in the sport.

On Monday, Callaway Golf confirmed one of golf’s worst-kept secrets by announcing an endorsement deal with teen phenom Lydia Ko. The same day, SportsBusiness Journal reported that Luke Donald had signed with management firm Lagardère Unlimited.

What do these moves have to do with Mickelson? Plenty, I’d say.

Rewind to November, when a starstruck Ko met Mickelson at Callaway’s fitting center. Phil autographed an Open Championship flag for her and advised the young New Zealander on the tax implications of choosing a U.S. base. Although comfort with the equipment and money were likely the primary factors in Ko’s decision to go with Callaway, you have to think the chance to hobnob with the man she termed “#myidol” (in Twitterspeak) played a role.

Meanwhile, by joining Lagardère, Donald will be represented by Steve Loy, Mickelson’s longtime agent. (Paris-based Lagardère acquired Loy’s former firm, Gaylord Sports Management, in 2012.) Ranked No. 1 in the world for 56 weeks in 2011-12, Donald struggled for most of last year. He’s also 35 and still searching for his first major title.

In a statement, the Englishman suggested Lagardère’s global footprint makes the agency a perfect fit for him. Left unmentioned: the immeasurable value of access to Mickelson’s inner circle.

A decade ago, Mickelson was 33 and majorless. He now has five and a chance for the career Grand Slam at Pinehurst in June. Donald no doubt has designs on a similar résumé, and who wouldn’t want Mickelson’s fortune? By tapping Mickelson’s advisers, Donald has taken a logical step toward achieving both.


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