Report: Mickelson to return at St. Jude
Monday, June 1, 2009
DUBLIN, Ohio – Phil Mickelson plans a brief return to the PGA Tour in time to play in the U.S. Open.
The world’s No. 2 player suspended his schedule indefinitely upon announcing two weeks ago that his wife, Amy, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Recent tests have given them hope the cancer has been caught early, with more tests over the next month.
Mickelson intends to return next week at the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn., then play the following week in the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, according to a person informed of the plans.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Mickelson had not announced his decision.
“We heard there was a possibility he would play,” St. Jude Championship spokesman Phil Cannon. “That would be great.”
Mickelson is a sentimental favorite at every U.S. Open, where at age 38 he already has tied the record for most runner-up finishes with four. He is especially popular in New York, and his presence at Bethpage Black figured to bring an emotional and raucous response.
He has never finished worse than fourth in his four U.S. Opens held in New York.
But his return might not last long.
Mickelson first thought surgery for his 37-year-old wife could happen as early as a few weeks since the announcement, but that has been pushed back for another month.
Her treatment and recovery will dictate whether he plays in the British Open, or how much he plays at all the rest of the summer. Mickelson already has won twice this year and is No. 5 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Amy Mickelson is among the most popular wives in golf, mingling with friends and fans with equal ease as she follows him around the course. The support has been overwhelming, with phone calls and messages and from players, and visible support on tour.
Saturday at Colonial, the PGA Tour Wives Association worked with the Tour and title sponsor Crowne Plaza to promote “Pink Out,” in which players, wives, officials and fans were encouraged to wear pink.
Ian Poulter was dressed in pink from head-to-toe, and most players wore some form of pink. Vijay Singh, one of Mickelson’s fierce rivals, wore a pink shirt. Even the CBS Sports crew wore the color in support.
“We have been home watching the golf at Colonial surrounded by loved ones,” Amy wrote Saturday on her husband’s Web site. “Every time we see a player, caddy, announcer or fan wearing pink, we are overwhelmed by the love and support we feel. ... The 11 days since we received the diagnosis have been very difficult, but this incredible gesture helps us feel so much stronger.”
Mickelson typically plays the week before a major to work into a competitive mode, but he has not done that in the last two years when Memphis moved into that spot on the schedule.
The last time he has played the St. Jude Championship was in 2001, when he missed the cut.
Mickelson was treated like a rock star in his last appearance at Bethpage Black, a public golf course on Long Island. It was held nine months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Mickelson had yet to win a major.
Starting the final round five shots behind, Mickelson got to within two shots of Tiger Woods on the back nine before Woods pulled away for a three-shot victory. Mickelson won the first of his three majors at the 2004 Masters, and he finally delivered for the New York area in 2005 when he won the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in northern New Jersey.
A native of San Diego, Lefty has become so smitten with New York that he takes a trip there every year with his family, and recently joined Liberty National, across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
“I love all that’s going on there,” he said last month. “It’s a very sports-minded city, a very cultural city, an energetic city.”