My Year in Golf: Jeff Rude

Phil Mickelson poses with his wife Amy (top left) and children Evan Samuel, Amanda Brynn and Sophia Isabel after winning the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.

Looking back at golf in 2013, my mind’s eye, if not heart, keeps embracing father-child images. Those moments, some at major championships, made it a sappy, sentimental year in need of a ready handkerchief.

When Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, his father Phil was there. A golf professional who designs courses, Phil Scott travels to see his son play two majors annually, the Masters and Open Championship. So dad was at Royal Lytham in 2012 when son bogeyed the final four holes and blew a four-shot lead.

In Augusta, though, Phil Scott witnessed bounceback history and heard a tribute. Both were emotional. Soon after winning, Adam singled out his father for helping throughout the years.

"He was the biggest influence on me,” the 32-year-old son said after claiming his first major title. “Really he did an incredible job of just letting me be who I am and letting my game develop, not standing in the way at some times, pushing me at others when I needed to be pushed."

The year’s second major championship, the U.S. Open at Merion, had touching father-child moments at the start and finish.

Phil Mickelson left Ardmore, Pa., on Tuesday and flew home to California to attend daughter Amanda’s eighth-grade graduation. Then he took a cross-country redeye back, landed 3 1/2 hours before his 7:11 a.m. first-round tee time, somehow shot 67 and eventually finished as Open runner-up for the sixth time after making two last-nine bogeys after wedge approaches.

Instead, the trophy on Father’s Day went to Justin Rose, who, like Scott, broke through with a major victory at age 32. After holing out on the last green, Rose looked up and pointed toward the sky, a thankful gesture meant for his late father, Ken. The elder Rose, who coached his son for many years, died of leukemia in 2002 at age 57.

“It wasn’t lost on me that today is Father’s Day,” Rose said after winning. “For it all to work out for me on such an emotional day, I couldn't help but look up to the heavens and think my old dad Ken had something to do with it."

The theme continued at yet another breakthrough – Mickelson’s in the Open Championship at Muirfield. One touching moment came right after the left-hander showed he solved his long-time puzzle of links golf. The scene came when Mickelson posed for photographs with his wife and three children on the 18th green.

The next month, Tiger Woods got into the act. After winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational by seven strokes, Woods gave us a rare glimpse into his family life. He scooped up 4-year-old son Charlie after leaving the 18th green and carried him on the way to the scoring trailer.

Woods has won 79 PGA Tour tournaments, but that is the only one Charlie has attended.

“That's what makes it special for both of us,” Woods said after probably his best public-relations moment of the year. “He's never seen me win a golf tournament.”

In my own little world, all of those heartfelt moments paled in comparison to the father-son feelings I had on Nov. 16. On the 50th anniversary of my father’s death, my son Scott was in the midst of the first Tour event he has worked as an on-air Golf Channel reporter.

He has been a producer there for nine years, so the Tour is old hat to him. Just the daily on-air reporting was new. It follows that his reports from the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on Nov. 16 had me tearing up while connecting powerful father-son dots a half century apart.

I’m fairly certain the grandfather he never knew would have been proud.

All things considered, I also think it seems fitting that the last 2013 tournament Scott covered was the PNC Father/Son Challenge. He was back on the air there, so I was watching more than yesterday’s stars and their own kids.

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