All-World Nice


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The 109th U.S. Open just became a bit less interesting. Not because Phil Mickelson, the worlds second-ranked player and the beaming bridesmaid the last time the Open was played on the most blue-collar of all major ball parks, probably wont make the trip to Long Island.
No, the national marathon lost a bit of its luster on Wednesday because Amy Mickelson, the circuits eternally beaming bride, probably wont attend Bethpages Black Course for next months championship.
Amy and Phil Mickelson
Amy and Phil Mickelson at the 2008 Ryder Cup in Louisville. (Getty Images)
A pall settled in over the practice range at this weeks Byron Nelson Championship on Wednesday as news spread that Amy Mickelson has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
More tests are scheduled, but according to Phil Mickelsons management firm, the treatment process is expected to begin with major surgery, possibly within the next two weeks.
Mickelson, who was in the field for this weeks Byron Nelson and next week at Colonial, has suspended his Tour schedule indefinitely, a blow to any marquee, particularly a U.S. Open at Bethpage. But thats not why the national championship lost some of its shine.
Amy Mickelson has never hit a golf shot that mattered, never lost a major championship with a meltdown on the 72nd hole or won a minor outing with a miracle at the last. But she has always been there. For most of her husband's 36 victories and a good number of his 358 losses.
Shes a Tour staple, like scoreboards and surly caddies. Amy Mickelson, 37, is always there with a friendly smile and a kind word, no matter how deep the rough or high her husbands scores.
Some Tour players are defined by their score for the day, but the former Phoenix Suns cheerleader is immune to it all. She proved to always be above the psychology of a game that can drag down even the most free spirits, and thats why the Open took a hit.
Phil Mickelsons name may not end up on the Open marquee, but it will be Amy Mickelsons mug in the gallery that will be missed the most. The harsh reality of the real world always trumps golfs contrived between-the-ropes existence, no matter the major or the moment.
It happened in 1999 when Amy Mickelson ' who met Phil in 1992 when he was a senior at Arizona State ' was back home in California expecting the couples first child, a girl they would name Amanda, and Phil was vying for his first major at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Mickelson carried a beeper and said hed walk off the Donald Ross gem if called. Real world 1, golf 0.
Simply put, family and health and happiness have a way of putting a game, even a game as great as golf, in its place, particularly when the volume is turned up at a major championship.
No, the U.S. Open ' and every event that will be played until Amy Mickelsons return ' will lose a step because one of the circuits genuine gems is locked in a battle much more important than Grand Slam hardware.
Its a telling sign that one of the first statements released on a gloomy Orlando, Fla., afternoon came from Tiger Woods. Mickelsons spoiler the last time the U.S. Open was played at Bethpage and a regular Lefty antagonist was quick to offer the family his support.
Elin and I are deeply saddened to hear the news about Amy, Woods said. Our thoughts and prayers are with her, Phil, the children and the entire Mickelson family.
The Tour is filled with good people ' which is why covering golf is so much better than baseball or basketball ' but Amy Mickelson is all-world nice. The neighbor you always say hello, to, or the office worker you want to have lunch with, and Wednesdays news falls under the bad things happening to good people, banner.
During one of those scorching afternoons at The Players, we spotted Amy Mickelson behind the clubhouse. We exchanged hurried greetings before she paused to ask about my children.
As I raced on toward the 18th hole I couldnt remember where or when Id mentioned my three little tax deductions to Mickelson, and on Wednesday it really didnt matter. All that mattered was that shed remembered and taken the time to ask. Its why Amy Mickelson is special. Its why the U.S. Open just became a bit less interesting.