Mickelson gives us Masters story to feel good about

Family issues aside, things are looking up for Phil Mickelson at the Masters, as he's one shot off the lead going into Sunday.

Family issues aside, things are looking up for Phil Mickelson at the Masters. He's one shot off the lead at 11 under going into Sunday's final round. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA – It’s a Masters weekend, and the story just changed to one we can wrap our arms around.

It’s not about the guy who is being protected by an army of security guards more fitting for heads of state as he walks around a golf course, just on the chance some fan mounts an attack with a pimento-cheese sandwich. It’s about the guy who moves about like he’s at a family reunion, with little visible security, smiling and acknowledging fans from tee to green.

It’s not about the guy whose wife, and mother of two, has — and certainly will have — all the money she’ll ever need, but had her life torn apart by a philandering husband. It’s about the guy whose wife, and mother of three, as well as his own mother, are undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Saturday at Augusta National belonged to Phil Mickelson. It should. He could use some good news.

Mickelson’s wife, Amy, and his mother, Mary, both are battling breast cancer. His family traveled with him to a tournament for the first time since Amy was diagnosed 11 months ago. This is their reward.

Phil Mickelson reacts after nearly chipping in on 15 for a third straight eagle. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Phil Mickelson reacts after nearly chipping in on 15 for a third straight eagle. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mickelson fired back-to-back eagles for the third time in Masters’ history on holes 13 and 14. He followed that with a birdie on 15. By the time his third round ended, he was 5 under for the day, 11 under for the tournament and one shot back of leader Lee Westwood.

Finally, a story that doesn’t come surgically attached to paparazzi. (On a related note, Tiger Woods is 8 under, and for once he was an afterthought.)

Mickelson called it “a fun round.” He talked about the loud roar he heard after the second eagle on 14, saying, “It was pretty cool, that walk up. I can’t believe that ball disappeared and went in.”

Then he addressed the significance of having his family here.

“This is the first time they’ve traveled in 11 months [since The Players Championship last May],” he said. “It’s really fun having them here. It takes a lot of the heartache away, and it’s been great.”

Mickelson’s wife and mother have been undergoing treatment at the M.D. Anderson

Amy Mickelson is in August this week but hasn't attended the tournament.

Amy Mickelson is in Augusta this week but has not attended any days of the tournament.

Cancer Center in Houston. Mary walked nine holes and watched her son play Thursday. Amy, weakened by treatments, is in Augusta but has yet to make it to the course.

Asked following his news conference Saturday whether his wife would attend the final round, Mickelson said, “I don’t think so.”

His kids caddied for him in Wednesday’s Par 3. Mickelson beamed throughout. There is no way to measure how having his family in Augusta has impacted his game. But given that he has one top-10 finish in seven tournaments this season, you be the judge.

He was 7 under and five shots back of Westwood when it seemed like somebody blasted him with pixie dust. On the par-5 13th, he reached the green in two with a 7-iron from 195 yards and putted home from eight feet for an eagle. On the par-4 14th, he hit his second shot with a wedge from 141 yards that bounced about six feet from the hole and rolled in.

With Westwood bogeying the 12th, Mickelson made up five strokes in two holes. He then birdied No. 15, narrowly missing a Masters’ record three consecutive eagles when his third shot from 87 yards out rolled just past the cup. This follows Friday when he birdied 13 and 17 and nearly No. 18, when a 50-foot putt lipped out. If he plays Sunday’s 18 the way he has played his past 27, he’ll win his third Masters.

We hear a lot about the pressure Woods is under. But that pressure is self-inflicted. Real pressure is what Mickelson is going through, not knowing whether you may lose your life partner for something completely out of your control.

His sponsor-covered hat now includes a pink ribbon for breast-cancer awareness. His wife’s doctors have become like family. Last week, at the Shell Open in Houston, Mickelson pulled oncologist Dr. Tom Buchholz out of the crowd and used him as a caddy for a few holes. Good karma. He birdied three consecutive holes.

“He’s been a huge part of helping us get through, and our surgeon, Dr. Kelly Hunt — this lady was incredible,” Mickelson said earlier this week. “These two have helped us in the toughest time of our life.”

A Masters win can’t possibly make up for everything.  But it’s one story worth cheering for.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC


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180 comments Add your comment

DP

April 10th, 2010
9:03 pm

Great story Jeff. Thanks.

I’m not sure what it says about our society when Tiger Woods was 100 times the story Mickelson was coming into this week.

Tiger’s vow to control his temper and respect the game lasted 41 holes, until he pulled his tee shot on the par 3 6th and let go his usual stream of expletives with a boom mike picking it all up.

Ted Striker

April 10th, 2010
9:06 pm

Boy, is Mickelson ever a good story-line. And this also a very fine column. I hope he keeps it going, and moreso, hope things work out for him at home.

Good work, Jeff.

Jeff Schultz

April 10th, 2010
9:12 pm

DP and Ted — Thanks for the comments. Definitely a very cool story developing.

The Wad

April 10th, 2010
9:30 pm

Here`s praying that Mickelson wins on the last hole of play tommorrow! And even more importantly that his wife and mother watch him play for 20 more years at Augusta. That would be a story the great Furman Bisher would do justice in writing…no offense to you Jeff.

Sloan

April 10th, 2010
9:40 pm

I pray he gets it done tomorrow. Thanks, Jeff, for the column.

Matt

April 10th, 2010
9:46 pm

Lefty is feeling the flow right now. Dude is overdue for some good Karma to come his way. Hope he takes his third Jacket.

Angela

April 10th, 2010
9:49 pm

As an unabashed Tiger fan, I am rooting for the same man I always have. I don’t have any problems with a person not supporting him or rooting for another golfer. I think that is what makes sports great and the rivalry between fans is almost as much as the athletes themselves. Watching Tiger is how I became interested in golf back in ‘97. It is the reason that I, and some of my friends, bought clubs. Tiger made it cool for us “blue collar workers” to go to the driving range on our days off. Tiger excelling meant that everyone was welcome and able to play golf. It no longer seemed elitist. And then he went out and consistently won. Thrilling shots (’05 Masters 16th), matches that had you on the edge of your seat and sneaking to watch golf when you’re supposed to be working (’08 US Open). Tiger was always in contention and, as a fan, you knew he might not win but he was going to force the best out of the ones ahead of him. He has messed up horribly and will probably lose his wife and the ability to have his children in his home and, as a married woman, I think that is probably about right. As a fan of watching the best golfer, possibly ever, I offer no apologies because when I sat down this weekend, tiger gavee back those feelings from years ago, that I am seeing someone attempt to come as close as perfecting a sport as I may ever see. As a Christian, I pray that Phil’s wife comes through this in good health. I just don’t think I am wrong in also praying that Tiger lives the rest of his life as a better person and finds some sort of peace. I just don’t like the idea that those of us who support him are wrong or that our desire to see him win is any less valid than yours. I believe in redemption and all Tiger can do is live his life one day at a time. Which includes working. And being the best golfer he can possibly be.

Steve

April 10th, 2010
9:53 pm

Thanks for the work Jeff, very good read. I am so tired of hearing the commentators go nuts over Tiger, and practically playing him as the victim. All of this attention, he has brought on himself, and I for one, feel no sympathy whatsoever for him.

Reid Adair

April 10th, 2010
10:05 pm

Another great post, Jeff. You can’t help but cheer for this guy. What a great story it would be for him to win tomorrow.

johnd

April 10th, 2010
10:11 pm

Oh God, give us a break. He got lucky on #14. The action of the other players is to be a distraction to TW. God we expect TW to not only break Jack’s record but dismantle it for the foreseeable future. The rest of the players is merely to become a pain in the ass. Mick… will shoot in the 70s tomorrow for sure. If TW doesn’t show good progress on the first 5 holes tomorrow, I am not gonna waste another bad day in front of CBS TV.

Larry

April 10th, 2010
10:58 pm

Jeff,

Thank you for putting some ink up about not just a truly good golfer, but an even better man. Coming from a man still in love with his wife of 20 years as much as ever, and a great admirer of her innate ability at developing our two precious daughters, it is most refreshing to read about that which is much more worthy of reading about.

Larry

[...] Mickelson gives us Masters story to feel good about Golf News & Events Apr 102010 [...]

Nice job Jeff

April 10th, 2010
11:22 pm

Why so bitter johnd? You are obviously not a golfer or a fan of golf so who gives a crap what you think. Now go to bed so you can get enough rest for the NASCAR race or tractor pull you will be watching tomorrow. Stupid hick.

SowegaDawg

April 10th, 2010
11:23 pm

I didn’t think there was a sportswriter left in the country who had it in them to write such a great column as this. My hat’s off to you Jeff and thank you so much for a “real” feel good story. Phil Mickelson is very appreciative of the fact that he gets to play golf for a living. He has always had time for his fans, unlike Tiger Woods, who suddenly feels the need to “hide” behind sunglasses. I for one am pulling for Phil on Sunday as hard as I possibly can. You couldn’t help but notice the number of people who didn’t clap for Tiger–good for them. Tiger is just a few more bad holes away from showing his true colors-he barely contained himself in round 3. When it does happen, CBS needs to let the world hear it and see him slamming clubs without cutting away like they do. Phil Mickelson is my hero in golf and life-a good man handling a very difficult situation admirably. My two cents worth for any Tiger fans–you don’t have much of a hero.

The Truth Hurts

April 10th, 2010
11:25 pm

Very good response Angela. you said what I was feeling, much better than I ever could. Besides all of the negative comments about Tiger, and I don’t condone anything that he has done in his personal life as far as being unfaithful to his family and letting down a lot of people, Golf as we know it today, the money, the viewership, the increase in popularity, would not be what it is without him. Golf professionals and media alike, all concur, and TV ratings don’t lie. Say what you want, but take Tiger out of it and Golf is just a bunch of men walking 6 or 7 thousands yards a day, hitting a little white ball every once in a while. And yes, I am a player of the game!

cloudy

April 10th, 2010
11:35 pm

Thanks Jeff- a really good article about a really good guy and a great golfer.

SickandTired

April 10th, 2010
11:54 pm

Well johnd, here’s hoping you get to call it early on Sunday afternoon and get to something that you really care about. If you really cared about the game of golf, you’d watch it with Hunter Mahan tomorrow coming up the leaderboard to win. You see, the people like you that Tiger inspired for the most part only care about one golfer, only watch one golfer and in the end aren’t really golf fans. You might as well be a horse racing fan, or cricket fan. The story written here is a wonderful story about a family man, a man who conducts himself as a gentleman whether he’s winning or he’s missing the cut. A man who with my own eyes I have seen stay an hour after his round and sign anything that a kid had with him and look into their eyes and say something nice to them. Those kids are the ones who will be golf fans for life, not only of Phil Mickelson but of the great game of golf. I truly hope Tiger gets his life straightened out, it obviously is gonna be a struggle after witnessing his meltdown on the 6th hole today. If he can’t even control his emotions any better than that after a missed tee shot, he’ll never be able to control himself when he goes to his office and stops by the nearest Perkins restaurant, or sees his neighbors daughter lying by the pool, or visits Las Vegas and any number of his previous debutantes arrive on the scene.

Adrianne

April 11th, 2010
12:31 am

“Worth rooting for?” Until we find out that he’s cheated or some other issue that you can use for your headlines. We like these people because they play great golf and no other reason. Tiger cheated on his wife and its none of our business. The media puts these people on a pedestal and tears them down when they’ve done something wrong. It’s all for the ratings and sales. You and other sports writers are hypocrites. Just like with Michael Phelps–he’ll get his endorsements again and the favor of the media when he starts winning again. Secretly, most of you men are giving each other high fives because you really want to be “like tiger.” If he wasn’t a winner at golf, would we even care?

Phill

April 11th, 2010
12:32 am

Yes, it is unfortunate what Mickelson has to go through with his wife and mother. Yes, he has not gotten in to any trouble “that we know of,” but this is not the feel good story of the Masters. It will be if Westwood holds on to win or if Tiger comes back to win. We all know Mickelson will find a way to lose the tournament but yet you cheer for him. Stop bringing their home lives into the picture, its all about the golf.

beatle baily

April 11th, 2010
12:35 am

@Angela re: “Tiger made it cool for us ‘blue collar workers’ to go to the driving range on our days off”

I am not sure what you mean by that. Tiger is and always has been about as “blue collar” as Donald Trump. Please. You are obviously following a STORY and not the true tradition of the game. Tiger espouses Buddhism, but he doesn’t even understand what Buddhism is all about. What it is not about is throwing tantrums, making excuses and shaming his family. He will have a couple of bad holes tomorrow and probably drop the “F” bomb for the world to hear. Great role model.

cliff

April 11th, 2010
12:40 am

Great to read about a good guy doing well. Am sick of Tiger. How sad that the first black guy to
win the Masters is also the first to be publicly chastised by the president of Augusta National. Wish
they’d make him shut his foul mouth up.

mdawg

April 11th, 2010
1:52 am

i will never root for phil… he is bad for the game

mdawg

April 11th, 2010
1:53 am

cliff,

we need more foul mouths… its good for the game

L-Train

April 11th, 2010
2:46 am

If you’re looking for good story’s Jeff, why go any further than the leader? In a tournament overshadowed by the stories of Tiger’s misogyny, I’m sure Westwood would have loved to have had the opportunity to continue being faithful to his wife before she was tragically killed.

JASon

April 11th, 2010
3:44 am

I must retract a previous statement of mine in which I called Phil Mickelson a “fat, left-handed retard”. I really regret that I said that, especially when Phil is such a good guy. I do not regret any of my other comments about that other guy. Let’s go Phil!

sipp

April 11th, 2010
6:08 am

Great story on the Mickelson family. May the best player on Sunday win.
I still note the bias in reporting all week. It is also apparent with the commentators on CBS. Please stick to reporting and not attempt to influence the sentiments of readers & fans.

The Cynical White Boy

April 11th, 2010
6:40 am

I neither watch nor play the game, but I love people watching, and Augusta each spring just can’t be beat for that.

Middle aged affluent white boys, who spend the rest of the year muttering about how disgusting it is for non-white, non-male, non-affluent people to engage in hero worship…..suddenly, in the spring, in Augusta….can’t move, speak, or use the potty unless and until they believe Tiger would approve of their actions.

Now that Tiger is back, these boys are able to follow their star again.

Hoo boy.

Hal Boyd

April 11th, 2010
6:51 am

Great article. Thanks for the good news story in golf today. It was a great reprieve from the Cheetah stories!

jeff

April 11th, 2010
7:00 am

Only good news in you are a fan of his.

Jim007

April 11th, 2010
7:00 am

These are the storys that we want to read. About Good family men and real life struggles they endure, Just goes to show again, cancer strikes everyone in one way or another.
Way too much talk about TW.
Still think he is a POS and only sorry because he got caught.

SowegaDawg

April 11th, 2010
7:05 am

L-Train, I believe you are referring to Stuart Appleby.

FANN

April 11th, 2010
7:17 am

L-Train: You’re thinking of the wrong golfer. Lee Westwood’s wife is alive and well; maybe you’ve got him confused with Stuart Appleby, whose wife was killed when she was hit by a car back in 1998.

Anyhoooooo…….I’m a Tiger fan and always have been, but I’m rooting for Phil, or even better, for Freddie Couples. I’ve been supportive of Tiger throughout the whole “ordeal” (he’s not my Priest, or my kid’s babysitter, or my Congressman); but enough is enough.

For those who say his outbursts and behavior ON the course don’t matter: You’re just wrong. It’s golf, not a monster truck pull, not the NFL, not even MLB (where the occasional Bobby Cox blue streak/tirade can be an amusing addition to the game). It’s a game of gentlemen, played in a calm, serene setting, with long-standing and accepted rules of etiquette and behavior. One day (and hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later) Tiger is going to have to grow up.

His behavior on and off the course is all as a result of an immature sense of entitlement. “I’m allowed to sleep with whoever I want. I’m Tiger Woods.” “I’m allowed to shout, swear, and throw my clubs when no one else does. I’m Tiger Woods.” Yeah, well, those entitlements have an expiration date, and it’s come and gone.

So go, Boom-Boom. Or Phil. Or Ricky Barnes. Or Hunter Mahan. Or as a last resort, Tiger. Just not Lee Westwood. I’ve never been able to stand that cry-baby.

Alan

April 11th, 2010
7:55 am

Jeff, this is my first comment ever to an article in the AJC.I would like to say this is your finest ever. What a fine piece of writing that puts you at the top of your game!!!!!

[...] day or Tiger’s day? Our own Jeff Schultz says Phil Mickelson’s story makes this Masters special. Others found hints of his comeback particularly memorable: It was the most-fun Saturday round ever [...]

deputy dangle

April 11th, 2010
8:12 am

I admire Tiger’s ability to bag babes, I hope he wins tomorrow and celebrates by nailing the hottest, white Hooters girl in Augusta…

154 and counting...

April 11th, 2010
8:13 am

Great read Jeff! Should be a great Sunday to view. Saturday I thought it would be great for continued success and a major championship win for Westwood and then Phil showed up with that incredible back 9. Now it could be an even better story with the two of them. It could be a great final group. I hope they both take off and The Masters turns into a 2-man match play event.

I believe L-Train is thinking of Darren Clarke when he speaks about his loss wife. Clarke and Westwood have been Ryder Cup patners, etc. thus the possible confusion of the players.

OK then

April 11th, 2010
8:13 am

It is a good story that Lefty is starting to play up to all the hype that was bestowed upon him. Most advid golf fans are saying “bout time!” After all the media created him to be the anti-Tiger and create a “Magic-Bird rivalry” the golf world needed. I am taking notes from all the Phil fans out there and then I want to hear from you guys when bones start coming out of his closet.

Sick & TIred Of Being Sick & Tired

April 11th, 2010
8:22 am

Wow….this is interesting. Jeff – why do you and other sports journalist keep including/mentioning Tiger in your articles if you want him to be and/or become an afterthought????

Why include lines like…”It’s not about the guy whose wife, and mother of two, has — and certainly will have — all the money she’ll ever need, but had her life torn apart by a philandering husband” IN A STORY THAT IS SUPPOSE TO BE ABOUT MICKELSON?

Why couldn’t your story REALLY be about and only about Mickelson? Kind of comes across as if you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth to me. Tiger Woods is no different than many other male athletes that were coddled and provided with privileges simply because of their athletic abilities. Where is the continued outrage against the women (the jump offs) who know that many of these men are married, yet they line up at the exit of the arena, go through all this effort to find out where the teams are staying for road trips, congregate in the hotel lobby, hang out at the hotel bar, etc. all in an effort to get over?

I’m not condoning what Tiger did but it is really “ONLY” between him and his family. If any of you put him on a moral pedestal, then “SHAME ON YOU”….this includes his sponsors too.

JDM

April 11th, 2010
8:31 am

Angelia, if you think for one second that Tiger represents the blue collar person or for that matter cares one iota for the blue collar person you are sadly mistaken.

Clay

April 11th, 2010
8:54 am

Excellent read, Jeff. One of your best. I’m a long time Phil “The Thrill” fan, so I’m used to the ups and downs of his wins and losses. If he can stay away from the double bogie today (like on 12 last year), I think he will get his 3rd green jacket.

Tired of "Sick and Tired"

April 11th, 2010
8:58 am

Sick and Tired, he is comparing the two golfers’ situations in the story. If you don’t like it, just stop reading . . .

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 11th, 2010
9:41 am

Brenda give proof to your statements! What are you talking about if you know so much.

Phanatic

April 11th, 2010
10:09 am

Great comments, Angela. There’s not much blue collar in Tiger, but I know what you mean. I think Mickelson summed up the Tiger situation best: “He doesn’t owe me an apology,” Mickelson said. “I mean, in the last 12 years, he’s done so much for the game of golf. I don’t know if there’s been an individual who has capitalized more on the opportunities that he’s brought to the game of golf than myself. He doesn’t owe me a thing.” Go Phil!

Sick & TIred Of Being Sick & Tired

April 11th, 2010
10:19 am

Response: You obviously missed my point or trying not to understand….”MY POINT” …why was it necessary at all to even mention Tiger Woods in this story. If it supposedly a story about Mickelson and the serious health issues that his family is dealing with so why mention Tiger in the same story. IT WAS NOT NEEDED NOR NECESSARY for the feel good story.

mdawg

April 11th, 2010
11:00 am

crabapplejoe, obviously you have never been in a commercial with phil or even know phil… he is a huge jerk he is very self centered and i could go on but i will keep this clean.

it amazes me to see you guys rooting for him. i will never root for crybaby phil

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 11th, 2010
11:10 am

Tiger and Phil have Breast Stories in common. Phil prayed his mother’s & wife’s breast wouldn’t kill the women he loves. Tiger prayed his wife wouldn’t kill him over the other breasts Tiger has loved. Tiger wanted to GET IN The HOLE. Phil has Prayed the women in his life are not going to be put in a Hole too soon in their lives. Same story different twist. One is about Class and the other is about A$$.

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 11th, 2010
11:18 am

mdawg what commercial did you make with Phil. All Pro players have many demands on their time that keeps them from family and the business that makes them famous. Phil is not an actor so I bet making a commercial is a royal pain in his butt. I hear you dawgs whine on the blogs all the time. You are a crybaby too.

Mr. Turnip-Green Jeans

April 11th, 2010
11:34 am

The only Masters story I’ll feel good about is when somebody puts that green jacket in a suitcase and they all head home.

Golf is as much a “sport” as poker is. Any pursuit that has 50 and 60-year-olds competing at a high level, is NOT a sport.

How bout we roll Phil Mickelson out on a football field, see if he can cover or bring-down Tony Gonzales. Hell, maybe Mickelson is the point guard the Hawks have needed for so long… Come to think of it, the Braves should have sent Heyward to Gwinnett! Phil Mickelson could surely have held the fort till June. LMAO

Dap01

April 11th, 2010
11:35 am

Tiger obviously thinks that he is above manners. He mouth is as nasty as his love life.

Why don’t ESPN and other reporters who worship him write about his poor taste in how he handles himself in public?

Jay

April 11th, 2010
11:38 am

great article!