Phil competed in the 82.5kg weight division and represented Scotland at five Commonwealth Games between 1954 and 1970.
After a top five finish in 1954, he went on to win gold in both the 1958 and 1962 Games, making him Scotland's most successful Commonwealth Games weightlifter to date. He had retired following the 1958 Games due to a knee injury but was persuaded to return for the 1962 Games where he won gold for the second time.
He won Scottish and British senior titles while still a pupil at Kirkcaldy High School, earning him the nickname 'Scotland's Wonder Boy'. His 5th place at the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games remains the best ever weightlifting result by a Scottish athlete to date.