Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Here's To You Phil and Amy

From the time Phil Mickelson first teed it up in a PGA Tour event he has had the weight of expectation planted firmly on his shoulders by those mesmerized by his uncanny shot making ability.

Since the dawn of the Tiger Woods era it seemed that if there was anyone on the golfing landscape that could challenge the world's best player, a task that's knocked him down more often than it's lifted him up, it would be Lefty.

But now a challenge far greater and more meaningful than any major championship faces the Mickelson family, and more importantly his wife Amy who several weeks ago was diagnosed with breast cancer.

This week Phil makes his return to the tour in preparation for next week's U.S. Open at New York's Bethpage, where Phil was famously embraced by the tough-to-crack New York fans in 2002. And after watching his emotional press conference earlier today it's clear to me why Phil has always been a fan favorite.

For all his talent and triumphs it has been his failures that we seem remember most. Not so much for the pain of it as people tend to remember the failures of say, Greg Norman, but instead for the palpable vulnerability of a man with so much ability.

No one looks at Tiger Woods and thinks, "that could be me", because he seems not of this planet more often than not. But with Phil it's more like watching a family member who we love in spite of their sometimes painfully obvious faults.

I wrote on my old blog after the 2006 Masters that Phil had won me over when he graciously and sincerely took the time out during his winner's speech to acknowledge an ailing Earl Woods, who himself was fighting cancer. He didn't have to do that, not at that point, but that's who Phil is and that's why we love him.

From the outside looking in it has always seemed that the Southern California native was living a charmed life alongside Amy and their insanely adorable children who have always been there to greet Phil, win or lose, with the kind of unconditional love we all seek in our lives.

Now, with the toughest fight of her life at hand, Amy will need every bit of that unconditional love from her family and it's hard to imagine that she could be in better hands.

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