Phil Mickelson: Family First

Posted by: mike June 16th, 2017

by Steve Trivett

 

Phil Mickelson was going to be a big story at this year’s U.S. Open – that starts Thursday in Wisconsin - no matter what.

He’s an even a bigger story now.

Because he’s not there.

Instead of teeing it up in the first round of 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills on Thursday, Lefty is going to be in California attending the high school graduation of his oldest daughter Amanda.

So instead of trying to win the only Major championship that he’s missing in his quest for a career grand slam, he’ll be in the audience as Amanda, her class president and a three-sport athlete, give a speech to their classmates.

Know what?

He’s doing exactly the right thing.Phil Mickelson

This isn’t the first time that Phil, Amanda and The U.S. Open have been used in the same sentence.

Way back at the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Phil and Payne Stewart were locked in a heated final round that would determine the outcome.

But Phil was also carrying a beeper in his bag – keeping tabs on his pregnant wife Amy who was in California about to give birth to the couple’s first child.

If that beeper had gone off – even on Open Sunday – Phil said he would have left Pinehurst.

Instead, Stewart, who would die in an aircraft accident four months later, made a 20-foot putt on the final green Sunday to defeat Mickelson by one shot and Lefty would be back home the next day for Amanda’s birth.

That second-place finish would also mark the first time in his career that Mickelson would be the runner-up at the U.S. Open – something he’s now done six times.

There were times he just got beat by a better performance from another player.

But there were others – think Winged Foot in 2006 and Merion in 2013 – when he had his hand on the trophy and gave it away.

This year will also mark the first time in 26 years that Lefty has not played in the U.S. Open.

And if history – and you can usually bet on history – tells the truth, his time in his hunt for a U.S. Open title may have already passed because he’ll turn 47 the day after Amanda graduates, and no one has won a U.S. Open after the age of 45.

And if you want to try this fact on for how much Father Time – and history – plays out in the world of professional golf here goes:

This will be the first time since the 1994 Masters that both Mickelson and Tiger Woods are not in the field at a major championship.

But the show will go on without them.

In fact, something else is going to happen Sunday at Erin Hills.

Like it does so many times, U.S. Open Sunday will fall on Fathers Day.

And there is a good chance that a father will win the U.S. Open and change his life forever.

This year it won’t be Phil Mickelson.

And that’s OK.

In fact, it’s more than OK.

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Steve is a long time veteran golf writer. He's already on the far side of 70 - which explains how Steve Trivett started covering the PGA Tour in 1963. He's an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, The late great Rocky Mountain News and The Villages Daily Sun. He once carried a single-digit handicap, but his ball striking finally reached the depth of his putting prowess.