For Lefty, it was More than Another Green Jacket

The irony could not have been more striking.  While perhaps too much of the coverage of this year’s Masters centered around Tiger and his return from infidelity exile (and the revelation that his wife, Elin, would not be attending), the most enduring image of the tournament was Phil Mickleson’s tearful embrace with his cancer-stricken wife after sinking the putt to clinch his 4th major tournament and 3rd green jacket.

In the past calendar year, both Phil and Tiger have taken time away from their careers to deal with urgent family issues.  Phil skipped part of the summer schedule after learning that his wife, Amy, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  In the ultimate insult-to-injury development, it was revealed within the next 2 months that his mother also had the disease.  Tiger, on the other hand, disappeared off the face of the Earth and missed the winter portion of this year’s schedule after his infamous, “Hell hath no fury”-induced car accident and subsequent admission of more marital affairs than I’ve actually had girlfriends.  He’s received treatment.  He says he is a better man.  But the fact remained that, for one reason or another, neither Elin Woods nor their children would be putting in an appearance at Augusta National.

Amy Mickelson was not even sure she would make an appearance at the golf course, but she did come to  Augusta with her husband.  She wasn’t sure she had the strength, thanks to the ongoing cancer treatments, to spend a whole day at the course. While watching the drama unfold on a TV in her hotel room, she saw Phil take command of the tournament and made the decision that she had to be there.  After Phil knocked in the winning putt, he saw the smiling figure of his wife standing just off the 18th green.  They embraced, and a single tear slid slowly down Phil’s suntanned face.  Bones Mackay, Mickelson’s long-time caddy, admits that he “lost it” when he saw Phil and Amy clinched together.  In his comments after the green jacket ceremony, Phil’s voice audibly cracked when he mentioned how special it was to have his family with him to share in a moment that must have seemed so improbable, if not impossible, just less than a year ago.

Tiger’s family situation is mysterious and open to speculation.  While he has spoken of his admittedly “terrible” behaviour, he has chosen to dodge commenting on the current state of his marriage and his family.  As a public figure, it’s certainly within his rights to refrain from commenting on private matters.  But the stony silence on the subject would seem to be telling.  Phil’s family situation is open for all to see.  Amy has been a conspicuous presence at most, if not all of the tournaments her husband has taken part in.  Phil publicly, and tearfully, announced that he would be taking hiatus from the tour to help guide his family through the unknown.  After all of the hard times since then when he has stood by his wife, she was there to stand by him in his moment of glory.  It was as strong an affirmation of love and commitment that a couple could make.

~ by schlippo on April 12, 2010.

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