Ford's presence on tour starts with Mickelson


THOMASTOWN, Ireland -- Ford Motor Co. signed Phil Mickelson
to an endorsement contract Monday, the first step toward the
company becoming a strong marketing presence on the PGA Tour.

Mickelson, No. 2 in the world ranking and one of the most
popular players in America because of his devotion to family and
his gambling style of play, will start wearing the Ford logo on his
shirt this week at the American Express Championship.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, although Ford Division
president Steve Lyons said he hopes it turns into a long-term

"This is a tremendous opportunity for myself and my family to
tie in with one of the very few American icons that Ford has
become," Mickelson said. "This is part of a comprehensive
strategy on Ford's part to get involved in golf. I'm very fortunate
to be part of the initial stages."

Ford also is looking into a deal to become title sponsor of a
PGA Tour event.

"Certainly, having Phil working with us, that would be a
logical next step and it's something we're looking at," Lyons
said. "We're not final on anything yet, but we're looking at a
couple of opportunities."

Ford already is the title sponsor of the Senior Players
Championship, one of the four majors on the Senior PGA Tour, and it
also has an endorsement deal with Jim Ahearn.

Lyons said the Mickelson deal is not a sign that Ford will sign
more players.

"We'd really like to stay focused on Phil and manage his
business relationship," he said.

Mickelson, who has won 21 times on the PGA Tour but never a
major, gives Ford one of the most visible players in golf behind
Tiger Woods.

Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, has a five-year deal with

Mickelson is regarded as a devoted father, having threatened to
walk out of the 1999 U.S. Open if his wife went into labor, and
skipping the final three months of last season when his second
daughter was born.

"The way Phil represents family values fits very well with our
brand, and his aggressive style matches pretty well with the values
we have at Ford," Lyons said. "We really look forward to this
being a lynchpin that launches us to a new area."