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Phil Mickelson's victory at Masters about more than a golf tournament

AUGUSTA, Ga. — This one was for the spot on the X-ray. This one was for the tears. This was for staying strong through the disease and the drugs and the surgeries.

This one was for Amy.

If you are among the many who have had someone close suffer from the cruel disease that is breast cancer, this one was for you, too.

A man and a woman embraced Sunday evening. On the back edge of the 18th green, underneath a broadcast tower, just short of the scorer's tent, Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, held each other for a very long time. They did not speak, because after the past year, no words were needed.

This one was for them, and pretty much, for everyone else, too. Mickelson had just won his third Masters golf tournament, which is a nice enough feeling by itself. This time, it felt like something more. It felt like hope, and it felt like healing, and it felt heartwarming.

Every now and again, sports grants us a moment such as this, when the sweetness of the moment overpowers the size of the accomplishment, when the emotions are so staggering a dictionary cannot describe them.

They hugged each other for the longest time, Phil and Amy, and their embrace was so tight it was as if they were trying to squeeze the cancer from their body. He had won, which was wonderful, and she had found her way to the 18th hole to be a part of it, which was better.

His mother, Mary, who is also battling breast cancer, was there, too. And his three children. And as everyone took turns embracing, the tears flowed freely.

"This has been a very special day and a very special week," Mickelson said, speaking slowly as if to prevent his voice from breaking yet again. "To have Amy and my kids here to share it, I can't put it in words. It just feels incredible, especially given what we've been through in the last year. To be able to share this kind of joy means a lot to us."

It has been a difficult year for the Mickelsons. Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. Her long-term prognosis is good, Phil says, but the short term has been harder. She tires easily, and her medicines can leave her nauseated. Amy flew to Augusta with their children Tuesday, but until Sunday, she had not made it to the course.

Then, as Mickelson glanced up while playing No. 18, there she was.

"I was really glad she was there," he said. "I wasn't sure she was going to be. I knew she would be watching.

"It's been tough. She didn't feel well and she doesn't have energy, and she's just not up for a lot this tournament can provide. To have her there and share this moment with our kids is something we'll look back on for the rest of our lives. This means so much to us to be able to share this type of jubilation."

This one, Mickelson said, is for all the doctors who have done research. This one is for all of the women who have battled the disease. This one is for anyone who has been touched by Amy's story.

Most of all, this one is for Mickelson.

There was a time, if you remember, when it was trendy to wonder if Mickelson had the stuff to endure what the final day of a Masters could bring. Hah. Compared to cancer, this was a stroll in the park. Mickelson threw up his third 67 in four days, and he went around without a bogey. Remember how the Masters is supposed to begin on the last nine holes? Mickelson played those in 4 under.

Yeah, the guy was a Master, all right. Did you see his shot from the rough on No. 13? Mickelson was behind a tree, real Tarzan territory, and his ball was on top of pine needles. He was 207 yards from the hole, and the clearing he had to shoot through looked like a coin slot. His playing partner, Lee Westwood, had just punched out to the fairway from a similar spot.

Mickelson? He picked up a 6-iron and drilled a shot 4 feet from the hole. It was the same bold approach that used to make critics shake their head. This time, however, it was 48 inches from perfect.

"I had a good lie in the pine needles," Mickelson said. "I was going to have to go through that gap if I laid up or went for the green. I was going to have to hit a decent shot. (The gap) wasn't huge, but it was big enough for a ball to fit through."

This one is for the storybooks. This one is for the big screen. This one is for a man's legacy. And a woman's, too.

There for a while, you couldn't blame Mickelson for wondering. On Saturday night, Mickelson's daughter Amanda broke her wrist while roller-skating. On the second hole Sunday, he was in the backswing of his putt when an insect landed in his line.

"When that happens, you wonder if somebody is out to get you," he said.

Not this day. This day was about more than golf. This day was about perseverance.

This was about Phil. This was about Amy. This was about the Mickelsons.

Most of all, this one was about happy endings.

Phil Mickelson's fourth-round scorecard


Phil Mickelson's victory at Masters about more than a golf tournament 04/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 11:26pm]
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