Phil Mickelson finds himself in a better place

By Rex HoggardAugust 5, 2009, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' It wasnt New York, not even New Jersey, but it was something. A cool morning in the heart of America was lifted by the presence of a single man doing a job he loves.
No, not Tiger Woods ' although its always a good table when the world No. 1 is about. But Wednesdays stage at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was saved for Phil Mickelson.
Watching the world No. 2 work his way around the South Course, it was easy to become mesmerized by competing skill sets, and were not talking about that magicians short game and slashing swing.
Phil Mickelson at WGC Bridgestone
Phil Mickelson is playing for the first time since the U.S. Open. (Getty Images)
This Phil, the one drained by months of emotional toil, has acquired the uncanny ability to compartmentalize and to keep things in perspective. Good news on the home front has sent Lefty back out into the Tour universe, our gain. And, maybe more importantly, a different view of the world has given him the ability to see beyond the scorecard.
Golf is better with Mickelson and his presence here sends the unquestionable message that Amy Mickelson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and underwent treatment shortly after the U.S. Open, is 1 up in a much more important match.
Although his voice still cracks when he talks about Amy and the Pink Out day officials had at Colonial for her and the outpouring of support they have received, hes finding a way to make Tour life his own version of Vegas ' what happens outside the ropes, stays outside the ropes.
He has to, its the only option Amy would accept.
I dont know if you really separate it, Mickelson said. Weve been fortunate. Both my mom (who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after Amy) and Amy have caught it early and weve been able to have some wonderful care.
So, you march on.
He didnt plan to be spending the dog days of summer so far from Amy. Hadnt even allowed himself to think that far ahead. But circumstances opened a door, and after everything the Mickelsons have been through of late you dont ignore karma.
If you had asked me two months ago would I be able to play again in August I didnt think that would be possible, he said. But weve had some good things happen along the way and Im fortunate to be able to play.
As for perspective, its inevitable in these types of brushes with mortality. Three footers dont seem so crucial, missed drives dont make the mental highlight reel and hazards seem much less hazardous.
Even major championships dont haunt ones thoughts. The same man who bounced his U.S. Open hopes off a corporate tent on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot and could manage only, Im such an idiot, can find solace in his circumstances.
Even that fifth silver medal at Bethpage last month, the door prize for finishing second at the national championship, had less bite than previous near misses.
Asked on Wednesday if his Bethpage finish had the same emotional impact as, say, Winged Foot in 2006 or Pinehurst in 1999, he was quiet, yeah, that would be fair to say.
Six weeks of untold procedures and almost not a single swing of a golf club has passed since Mickelson last found his way onto a Tour tee sheet. Its the longest mid-summer layoff of his career and, in a clarity of thought way, the best possible way to prepare for next weeks PGA Championship.
Mental rehearsal is every bit as important as physical rehearsal, Mickelson said. When I had my nurse gown on, I would mentally rehearse shots and stuff to just think about ' just kind of keep myself sharp, even though I wasn't touching a club. So I think when I came back and was finally able to swing a club, I was able to play fairly decently.
Make no mistake, Mickelsons expectations are high. Always are.
He went to Hazeltine National last Wednesday to do some pre-major homework, spent extra time with swing coach Butch Harmon on Wednesday working on the practice range. He still talks about his swing in abstract tones, but now hes not consumed by it.
Mickelson was asked about his schedule beyond the PGA and the answer came without hesitation: Well see.
Its the reality of the New Phil and a welcome sign. On a Tour defined by scorecards, Mickelson is more than happy to just play the cards hes been dealt.
Simply put, Mickelson is in a better place now.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 2009 WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

    Getty Images

    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.