Mickelson gives us a Masters’ moment to remember

Phil Mickelson said he felt "jubulation" Sunday, but largely because his family was with him in Augusta. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Phil Mickelson felt "jubulation" because his family was with him in Augusta. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

AUGUSTA– This is how scripts are supposed to unfold. The carnival act, complete with airplane banners and a daily SWAT team, dominates early in the week. Sanity and sport slowly take over. By the end of a drama-filled Sunday, complete with an episode of “When Pine Trees Attack,” the Masters has its perfect storyline and certainly its perfect ending.

Phil Mickelson won the Masters. He was met walking off the 18th green by his wife, Amy, who had traveled to her first tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer 11 months ago. She had spent the entire week at the family’s rented Augusta home.

Some moments in sports lift us more than others. This was one of them.

“I really want to recognize my family and my wife,” Mickelson said at the awards ceremony, his voice cracking. “We’ve been through a lot this year. It means a lot to share some joy together. It’s something we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”

Mickelson has been criticized in the past for perceived phoniness, justified or not. But feelings don’t get more genuine than what we witnessed this week. When he first met with the media on Tuesday, he gushed about the possibility that his family might be joining him at a tournament for the first time since last May.

The next day, his three children caddied for him in the Par 3 tournament.

Amy Mickelson, battling breast cancer, stayed away from the golf course all week until late Sunday.

Amy Mickelson, battling breast cancer, stayed away from the golf course all week until late Sunday. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Amy stayed home, mostly in bed. Until Sunday. Just as Mickelson’s second shot bounced onto the 18th green, his wife and children emerged in the gallery. After sinking the clinching putt that enabled him to finish at 5-under for the day and and 16-under for the tournament, Mickelson hugged his long-time caddy and close friend, Jim “Bones” MacKay. Then he walked off the green and he and Amy embraced for what seemed like forever.

“I don’t normally shed tears over wins,” he said later.

He won by three shots over Lee Westwood. A little further down the list: Tiger Woods at five shots back. He was the story (for better or worse) until golf took over. Woods’ strong moments Sunday (like going

Defending champion Angel Cabrera fitted Mickelson for his third green jacket. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Defending champion Angel Cabrera fitted Mickelson for his third green jacket. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

eagle-birdie-birdie in one stretch) were snuffed out by too many bad ones (five bogeys).

As he put it, “I’m not there yet.”

Just as well. This was a Masters story, not a tabloid one. It has been a struggle for Mickelson. He has missed practice time with his wife and mother both being treated for breast cancer. He had only one top-10 finish in seven tournaments before this week.

Oh, and it gets worse: On the eve of the final round, Mickelson’s oldest daughter fractured her wrist roller-skating. Dad took her for X-rays at 10 p.m. He didn’t get sleep until 1 a.m.

Well, it’s only a major.

He started the day one shot back of Westwood. Then came one of those “Why me?” moments on the second hole. Mother nature attacked. Mickelson was lining up for a 10-foot putt when a pine tree dropped a stamen directly in the line of fire between the ball and the hole, just as he was in his backswing. The putt hit the pod like a speed bump. A potential birdie went kaput.

Mickelson: “You have to wonder: Is somebody out to get you?”

He grinded all day. Tee shots on nine, 10 and 11 veered off course and took refuge in pine straw. But Mickelson battled back for important pars. A birdie on 12 gave him his first lead.

On the par-5 13th, either greatness or fate took over. His tee shot went into trees again. With a one-shot lead, conventional thinking was to play it conservative. But that’s not Mickelson. He drove a 6-iron and the ball screamed between the trees, kissed off the grass just over a creek and bounced to within three feet of the cup. Potential disaster turned into a near-clinching birdie and a two-shot lead.

Mickelson: “I needed to trust my swing and hit my shot.”

The rest of his round was window dressing.

It was Mickelson’s first PGA win since The Tour Championship at East Lake last September. It was his third Masters title, putting him in a class with Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player and Nick Faldo.

But numbers were an afterthought Sunday. And his family was waiting for him outside of the interview room.

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


Recent Posts on the Masters and Tiger Woods

Mickelson gives us Masters story to feel good about

It’s Day 3 at Masters, and keep an eye on Mickelson

Tom Watson is a survivor among Masters’ oldies

Masters Bermuda Triangle: Air Banners Disappear (UPDATED)

My Day 2 challenge at the Masters: Avoid Tiger Woods

Nothing to lampoon about Tiger Woods’ return to golf

It’s Tiger time: Do you prefer success or failure?

Against all odds, Woods shouldn’t be counted out

Playing in Par 3 would’ve been a nice gesture by Woods

David Duval makes it back to Masters from abyss

Masters Digi-Blog II: In search of squirrels

After Tiger Woods’ mea culpa, it’s time for us all to back off

On stage, Woods performs as well as we could’ve expected

Live from the Tiger News Network: Relaxed, jovial, still good

Tiger Woods still has something to answer (but not about sex)

Digi-Blog goes in search of Tiger Woods

As week begins, Masters is in Tiger Woods’ shadow

Tiger’s latest women problems: His kindergarten teacher

Woods making the right call on returning at the Masters

Woods’ safest return is on golf’s biggest stage: Masters

Tiger Woods can go in either direction after public humiliation

179 comments Add your comment

Fair or out of bounds

April 11th, 2010
9:02 pm

Is it fair to say that Tiger’s game seems flaccid at the moment?

Ted Striker

April 11th, 2010
9:12 pm

Great tournament, excellent play by a number of players.

Also, Jeff: your coverage of the major story-lines and the quality of your writing was truly OUTSTANDING this week. I’d say you were never better, even though there was no ghost-writing by the Count.

catsFly

April 11th, 2010
9:15 pm

I have never seen greater irony. This week was all about how Tiger has treated (insulted, disgraced) his wife. And at the end of the tournament, it was about Phil showing his wife that she is the most important thing in the world to him. I truly hope that Tiger can comprehend this and devote his life to his family. I think he can man up and do this. I hope so. I claim to be no better than Tiger, but I also have learned that Phil is the kind of man we should emulate when it comes to family.

Fourth and BALLS

April 11th, 2010
9:15 pm

If Phil showed any more cojones out there on 13, he’d have been required to legally change his name to Coach Paul Johnson.

Fair or out of bounds

April 11th, 2010
9:17 pm

I would have claimed first, but it’s obvious on this Sunday, Phil was FIRST!

JimmyO

April 11th, 2010
9:18 pm

Jeff, this column and your last one were some great journalism. Anybody that was’nt moved by the events at Augusta the last couple of days needs to step back and re-evaluate some things.

layinlow

April 11th, 2010
9:19 pm

What the hell are you talking about Phil’s perceived phoniness? I am a big time golf fan of more than 35 years and follow the game intently, and I have never heard anyone say that they think Phil is in anyway phony. Where do you come up with this stuff? I was suprised in one of the previous blog’s when you didn’t know about Darren Clarke’s with dying of breast cancer and his triumphant return in the ryder cup a few years back. It was a huge golf story. I guess one could assume that you don’t know much about golf, but somehow you have managed to claim the game’s most liked player as phony. Amazing.

lee

April 11th, 2010
9:25 pm

after reading and watching that philandering hypocrite for the past 5 months, wasnt it great too see someone who actually represents family values take home the hardware?

Keara

April 11th, 2010
9:27 pm

My family and I have never watched or followed golf – until this tournament. By chance, we were channel surfing and tuned in Friday and were increasingly fascinated by the game. I would have to say my own interest in the game was spurred on by having watched Phil Mickelson play in the first few minutes of tuning in Friday. I’d never seen or heard of him before. I didn’t know his personal struggles. But his focus, sportsmanship, creative comeback plays and good-natured smile fascinated me. Today, we watched the whole Masters championship game from beginning to end.

The more I learned about him as the game went along, hearing about his personal life and watching him play, the more I liked him. So though I was watching every player with interest and rooting for the best shots, Phil was in my mind as the one I wanted to win. Come to find out, the others in my family felt the same way. So when he hit that final shot, the cheers rang out at my home as well as at the course. And when Phil embraced his beautiful wife Amy, the tears ran down our cheeks as well. What a perfect and wonderful time to have chosen to watch golf! And what a champion to have rooted for!

c jones

April 11th, 2010
9:32 pm

Dang, I wish I hadn’t tweaked my hammy cheering for Phil on the 13th.

Fair or out of bounds

April 11th, 2010
9:33 pm

Maybe they should change the name to tigerandering.

c jones

April 11th, 2010
9:36 pm

And no oblique references from the peanut gallery about being injury prone.

louisville slugger

April 11th, 2010
9:42 pm

layinlow, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Lots of people (unfairly, IMO) think Phil is a phony; see Joe Posnanski’s excellent column on si.com (http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1981101,00.html).

Regarding the tournament, this was awesome. Mickelson has truly established himself as the anti-Tiger; and for once, that’s a good thing!

Reid Adair

April 11th, 2010
9:45 pm

What a fantastic day this was. Phil Mickelson did what it took, and he made the shots when he had to. Seeing him on the 18th green, hugging his caddie and then hugging his wife, THAT is what it is all about. THAT is a great ending.

Congratulations to Phil Mickelson. And, in a strange way, thanks – for giving the media in Augusta something worthwhile to cover.

dbc

April 11th, 2010
9:49 pm

There is justice in the world. Phil deserved to win and maybe there is such a thing as karma. Tiger proved he’s still a self-centered punk.

ben hogan

April 11th, 2010
9:52 pm

What a great day for golf and the Mickelson’s.

Amy Mickelson - Ardub

April 11th, 2010
9:58 pm

[...] your wife like Amy Mickelson did by being there at Augusta, but where was Elin Woods? In Order foAmy Mickelson – Phil Mickelson can look forward to having a good year of golf especially when you get the support [...]

[...] Amy Mickelson, battling breast cancer, stayed away from the golf course all week until late Sunday. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC) Amy stayed home, mostly in bed. …Tags: Amy MickelsonRead MoreMickelson gives us a Masters’ moment to remember. [...]

ASHEVILLE DAWG

April 11th, 2010
10:06 pm

When I saw him Phil hitting between trees, tree limbs and stuff , I knew why i have always liked him. He got to make shots from where I do, except mine always hit the trees, limbs, etc.

Very touching to see him with his wife at the end. A more perfect ending couldn’t have been scripted.

We should all say a prayer Amy and Phil’s mom.

layinlow

April 11th, 2010
10:09 pm

Louisville slugger, you’re proof that Phil is a phony is providing a broken link with no story? I have NEVER heard anyone in the golf world claim Mickelson is phony. His interaction with the fans is legendary and that smile and appreciation he shows to the golf fans is fake? Today on number 11 in the heat of the battle his tee shot hit a fan standing behind the trees. Mickelson takes the time to give the guy a golf glove even though he is in an intense battle for a major championship. Does that sound like a phony? The big phony in golf is Tiger Woods, not Phil Mickelson.

Bill

April 11th, 2010
10:10 pm

Phil has more class,dignity and is more of a man than Tiger will ever dream of being.

Amy Mickelson Breast Cancer | Ifdny

April 11th, 2010
10:23 pm

[...] medication she takes makes her nauseous and robs her of energy. the Masters was the first tournamAmy Mickelson Breast Cancer – Amy Mickelson was diagnosed nine months ago with breast cancer. her long-range prognosis good. [...]

fair or out of bounds

April 11th, 2010
10:26 pm

You just know that Elin stayed up late in Sweden to cheer him on to victory. Not Tiger; Phil!

Tiger's evening plans

April 11th, 2010
10:31 pm

You’ll go home with nothing, you’ll go home to nothing, and you’ll like it!

Bill

April 11th, 2010
10:35 pm

Thank goodness Tiger didn’t win.

Great story Jeff and the Best man won! Congrat PHIL.

Gen Neyland

April 11th, 2010
10:51 pm

The shot out of the trees on 13 breamed with confidence in his game. The rest is history. Mickelson is what manhood and responsibility is all about. Golf just got a boost with Tiger being served scraps. Hope the jerk takes another 5 months off…Hey Tiger, ‘Money for nothing and your chicks for free’…

Gen Neyland

April 11th, 2010
10:53 pm

…and Jeffy, good job on the old Royal. We (I) appreciated your work.

Tiger's evening plans

April 11th, 2010
10:58 pm

Gen. I think those chicks, while they may be worthless, turned out to be anything but free.

Tiger's evening plans

April 11th, 2010
11:05 pm

Hey Tiger, since Phil Mickelson is busy celebrating with FAMILY, why don’t you call Phil Knight and see if he’ll hold you.

Lanny Simons

April 11th, 2010
11:12 pm

Jeff, you did a fantastic job this week. Thanks.

hiegold

April 11th, 2010
11:13 pm

Jeff, Just FYI. Phil has 3 kids. Two daughters and the youngest Evan is a boy.

Jon

April 11th, 2010
11:28 pm

Family values? Phil? Wow, those in the know in the game of golf will tell you that Phil and his wife are both swingers! So can the family values crap.

GT71

April 11th, 2010
11:39 pm

Yeah, Jeff’s kinda into golf…when it’s Masters time. And whoever is in charge of assignments ay the old AJC points at him.
Writers, apparently not doers. Or researchers…or even peepers.
Three girls, Jeff? You know something Phil, Amy and the rest of the golfing world – the REAL golfing world – doesn’t?
I’ts spelled E-V-A-N and ‘it’s’ a boy.
Sheeesh!

Cheetah

April 11th, 2010
11:41 pm

Well, lost the tournament. Think I will troll the local Waffle House for some action.

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:43 pm

Man, lost the tournament and now my putter is all limp

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:43 pm

I feel so alone. Someone please hold me.

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:45 pm

Driver, take me to the Cheetah in Atlanta. Hurry, hurry. My putter needs attention.

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:46 pm

Yeah, park in the back. Wait for me while I troll for some midnight delight.

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:47 pm

“What have you learned”? Uh, nothing dad.

Tiger's evening plans

April 11th, 2010
11:49 pm

Why won’t Phil Knight hold me?

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:50 pm

Driver, this is “Mandy”. She’s into three ways. Hurry to the Weston!

Earl's Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:50 pm

Oh “Mandy”, hold me!

Nike Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:53 pm

Please people buy Nikes. My tramp funds are dwindling.

Nike Boy

April 11th, 2010
11:54 pm

The press only knows about 20 of them, thank God!

Bootyism

April 11th, 2010
11:55 pm

Loved the flyovers with the signs.

Tee-ger

April 11th, 2010
11:56 pm

Can’t we just all get along?

Amy Mickelson Breast Cancer - MeMiM

April 12th, 2010
12:17 am

Who Won The Masters 2010 - MeMiM

April 12th, 2010
12:18 am

[...] Woods has been winner of Masters for four times in his career and his first major tournament was aWho Won The Masters 2010 – Tiger Woods is also playing this year's Masters Tournament and all eyes are on just one player. [...]

Chuck

April 12th, 2010
12:35 am

Tiger’s driving erratic lately with or without his shoes.

Robards

April 12th, 2010
12:59 am

Layinlow, Most of the players (those who know him best) perceive Phil as a phony and a self-promoter. Guys like Vijay Singh, who aren’t self-promoters, are more popular among the players. You know Phil as the guy who smiles and interacts with the people. He’s the people’s champion, but the players don’t like him that much. FWIW. Yeah, anyway Phil’s the man. He’s only 10 majors behind Tiger. Maybe he can catch Eldrick if he’s still in his prime at 70. But probably not.