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Phil Mickelson is using a pretty special ball marker this week at Pebble Beach

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Phil Mickelson — Getty Images

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the richest, most famous athletes in the world (and I know LeBron James reads my work, so you don't have to imagine so much, sir). You have been playing the game you love for decades at the highest of levels, winning majors and golf tournaments and the hearts of countless Americans.

Now imagine that you, rich athlete guy, are from a family that wasn't so lucky with the money. That is Phil Mickelson, and this week at Pebble Beach he uses a special ball marker to remind him of what his family didn't have in the past that he has been blessed with a million times over.

[Related: Will Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods have a bigger 2013?]

Mickelson said in a conference call last month that his grandfather, Al Santos, grew up in Monterey and left school at the age of nine to work because his family needed the money. Santos was a caddie at Del Monte Golf Course and then at Pebble Beach when the course opened and to honor his grandfather, Phil is using a special marker this week on the greens that his grandfather once walked on.

From the AP ...

Santos kept in his pocket a silver dollar from 1900 that he never spent. Instead, he rubbed the coin whenever he felt poor, a small comfort to know that he had money. He died in 2004, just months before Mickelson won the first of his four majors.

"I have that silver dollar today, and I've used it during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a marker, and will continue to do so," Mickelson said. "And he used to work, I believe, for 35 cents a bag around that course. And it's just a cool feeling to have the money that he cherished and also to see what we are now playing for in prize money, and how far the game of golf has come. It's a great reminder for me."

It's a nice tribute to his grandfather that Mickelson is doing this.

If you remember, Santos is the grandfather that used to collect flags of tournaments Phil won, but finally decided he wasn't taking another flag unless it was a major championship. Sadly, Santos wasn't around for Phil's first Masters win, but predicted that Mickelson would win at Augusta National in 2004.

Now Phil has four majors, millions of fans and a cool marker in his pocket this week that means as much to him as another flag on the wall.

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