For Mickelson Its Family First

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He must be the most reviled man in golf right now, this Phil Mickelson. If not for his poor record in this years Ryder Cup, then for his long-standing policy of shutting er down right after the PGA Championship. No, he wont play another tournament until next spring. If you hope to see him before the end of January, the last place youll want to look is a PGA Tour golf course.
 
The latest reminder that Mickelson is finished for the year ' absolutely, totally, irrevocably ' came last week when the PGA of America announced that Mickelson would pass up his spot in the four-man Grand Slam of Golf. Mickelsons victory in this years Masters guaranteed him that position next month in Hawaii. But Mickelson said no thanks to the easy money and the vacation in a tropical paradise, leaving the PGA scrambling to get Mike Weir.
 
Mickelson doesnt appear to care about the cash. After the recent Ryder Cup, he turned down the chance to play in the no-cut WGC-American Express a short hop away near London. He, of course, will be skipping another lucrative payday when the Tour Championship is played the first week of November. And dont expect him either at the Mercedes Championships, reserved for tour winners, come January.
 
Thats a guaranteed $320,000 he has/will pass up just for showing up, staying awake and finishing last. Oh well, $100,000 just isnt what it used to be, I guess.
 
On the other hand
 
There has to be something about this guy you can admire. I mean, he already has won in excess of $4 million this year, and probably has $10-15 million more in endorsement money. Career-wise, hes won $40 million and been awarded probably two or three times that in outside earnings. Come on, people - how much can one family spend? And at what point do you stop equating everything to money?
 
Mickelson has three children now, the oldest age 7, the youngest age 3. Mickelson chooses to work at his occupation eight months a year and devote the other four months totally to his family. Now, if you could make $20 million in one year, wouldnt you knock off after eight months and just enjoy doing what YOU want to do?
 
I havent talked to Phil recently ' in fact, no one has. Hes been incommunicado. But over the past couple of years he has given plenty of interviews detailing his down time ' which, admittedly, is considerable. He has candidly revealed his whereabouts the end of the year, what he does after he throws the clubs in the closet.
 
He takes his family skiing. He takes each child on a separate vacation. It's that one-on-one time that I really cherish that I kind of find out and I learn a lot about them, said Mickelson.
 

He and his wife take a special trip to celebrate their November anniversary. He does a few things for corporate clients, does some photo shoots and attends a few functions. And ' he spends time at home, doing what millions of men in America do. He relaxes. He has an income that allows for that luxury.
 
It would wonderful if he played in 30 tournaments a year instead of 20. It would be wonderful if he played all over the world instead of just the U.S. It would wonderful if he decided to play after the end of August, at least go to three or four places where they have never seen Phil Mickelson. But he doesnt choose to do so, and he is playing perfectly by the rules if he closes out his tournament schedule a couple of months early.
 
I think the big thing for me is that I need an end point, he once said. You know, I can go at it hard, with the idea that once you go to this point, you can take some time off. And what I like is that there's an end point now, as opposed to dragging on for 12 months and never having the point where you relax and say, OK, we're done for a while, let's take a break.
 
Mitigating it all is the fact that Mickelson and wife Amy give so much time and money to charity. Lets see, these are just the ones I could quickly find: he donated $250,000 of his own money ' not the tours ' to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, and plans to do so for the next four years; he gives $200,000 to needy children in the San Diego area (his home ' not only donates, but donates his time as well, shaking hands with 1,000 students); he donates $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle to Birdies for the Brave, which assumes the collegiate funding for the children of Special Operations personnel killed in training or combat missions (and he makes a contribution approximately every four holes he plays); he donates the same for a fund called Home for Our Troops, which creates accessible wheelchair spaces for injured troops; and regularly supports the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
 
So I am not overly critical of him for not playing in the fall. Hes gone to the starting gate 19 times this year, and while that is certainly not very much when it comes to PGA Tour players, that is far above the necessary 15. He plays extensively in California ' his home ' in the winter months, teeing it up in seven of eight weeks. I like the West Coast, he says. I grew up on the West Coast, I want to play those tournaments.
 
I think that you have to find as a player what works best for you in preparation, what works best for you in scheduling. I understand that I will and I have received criticism and will continue to receive criticism over my scheduling, over the way I prepare.
 
The fault, should anyone be blamed, is for the tour itself, not Mickelson. I firmly believe in having a rule that states every player must play each tournament say, once every five years. But it doesnt. And as of now, Mickelson is doing exactly what he is allowed to do, busy being a pro golfer, a pitchman for his sponsors ' and a devoted husband and father.