Phil Mickelson, five-time Majors champion, told the New York Times on Saturday that he would likely skip the 2017 U.S. Open in order to attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation, barring a schedule alteration or weather delay.
“As I look back on life, this is a moment I’ll always cherish and be glad I was present,” said Mickelson, who has finished in second place at the U.S. Open a record six times, last being in the 2013 tournament.
Lefty is one U.S. Open championship away from being just the sixth male golfer ever to complete a career Grand Slam, something he’s been chasing since his British Open victory in 2013.
Mickelson’s decision to forgo the tournament that has eluded him for so long, is absolutely the right call. As a father and a human being, there is nothing more important in the world than your family and loved ones.
Amanda told her dad that she wouldn’t mind if he skipped her graduation and commencement speech because she knows how much the U.S. Open means to him, as she did in 2013 when her eighth-grade graduation was the day before the same tournament. Mickelson, obviously, also attended that ceremony.
I can’t imagine the joy Amanda must feel, knowing that her legendary father is missing out on one of his last opportunities for a U.S. Open title, so he can listen to her address and watch her receive her high school diploma.
As someone who has a very close relationship with his father, I know firsthand how important that bond and connection can be. In sports, we all have a tendency to focus solely on the upcoming event or game, when in fact there is so much more to life, and Mickelson has brought that to the forefront with his announcement.
Even if Lefty never wins a U.S. Open, he is still widely regarded as a top-15 golfer of all-time, and even top-10 according to some platforms. And he won’t regret this decision because he knows that it’s the right thing to do.
In 1999, Mickelson was faced with a similar conflict, as his wife Amy was pregnant with their first child and the due date was expected to occur during the U.S. Open. Mickelson vowed to keep a beeper in his caddie’s pocket in case she went in to labor so he could be there for the birth. The day after Mickelson was runner-up to Payne Stewart, Amanda was born.
“Good luck with the baby,” Stewart, who passed away less than six months later, told Mickelson. “There’s nothing greater than being a father.” Those words have never reigned more true than now.
“I’m really excited for Amanda to go to college,” her proud father said. “She thrives when she’s on her own, when we’re at a distance, when people can appreciate who she really is.”
We can all take a note from the Mickelson clan. Amanda and Amy have been so graceful and understanding, while Phil has revealed to all of us just how crucial and paramount family truly is. In the end, Mickelson’s choice was simple. Family comes first, as it should.
Photo Credit: Heavy.com and Golfweek.