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Every year, he came so close only to fall short. Every year, the dream grew larger, only to fade away. Yet every year, his gallery of fans grew in support of his quest. Then, on April 11, 2004, for the most beloved golfer of the decade, everything changed. It is a moment ingrained in the hearts and minds of millions, a moment of epic triumph and destiny fulfilled that will be remembered for the ages. But for Phil Mickelson, winning the 2004 Masters was merely another step in an odyssey that began many years ago. Born into a sporting family, with a putter drawn on his birth announcement, Phil knew early on that golf would always be his passion. His parents embraced and nurtured that dream, but they taught him that winning isn't everything.
In One Magical Sunday, Phil Mickelson takes us on a magical journey inside a life few have seen up close, but a life whose lessons can be cherished forever. As we travel hole-by-hole through that triumphant Sunday at the Masters, Phil looks back at the influences that made him the man he is today: his mom and dad, who mentored him on the balance between family and golf; his wife, Amy, who has given him so much happiness and fulfillment; and their three children, who remain their top priority. With personal insights from Phil's family and never-before-seen photos of his most treasured moments, One Magical Sunday is a book not only for Phil's millions of fans, but for everyone who finds inspiration in reading about a champion on and off the course.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
Phil Mickelson standing over his 18-foot putt on the 18th green at Augusta National. If he makes it, he wins the Masters by one shot. It would be his first major tournament victory. I found myself on the edge of my seat, holding my breath.
He stroked his putt. The ball rolled slowly, slowly, ever so slowly toward the hole. At the last moment, it looked like the ball was going to tail off to the left and miss. Instead, it caught the lip on the left side, rolled around to the right side, and dropped into the cup.
Phil jumped into the air, arms extended over his head. The Masters crowd went wild. They also raised their arms in the air. At home, I stood up and screamed, "Yes! Yes!" Tears were streaming down my face and I didn't completely know why.
Later, I found out that people all over the country reacted the same way. They spilled out of airport bars yelling, "He did it! He did it!" They celebrated in department stores, restaurants, hotels, and golf clubhouses. People working in their yards heard shouts of joy coming from their neighbors' homes. When Phil made that putt, there was a collective "hurrah" across the entire nation. It was one of the most thrilling and magic moments in the history of sports.
Several months later, my editor at Warner called. "Don, do you follow golf?" he asked.
"Sure, Rick. I love golf."
"Would you be willing to work with Phil Mickelson on a book?"
I caught the next plane to San Diego.
As in life, golf is a game of circles.
I'm on the practice green, walking in circles around the hole. Ten golf balls are spread out eighteen inches apart, in a perfect circle, each exactly three feet away from the cup. I just move around the circle rolling them in—with the same stroke, the same stance, the same setup.
When I knock in five balls, Bones (my caddy) picks them out of the hole and sets them back in the circle behind me. There are a number of people watching and each time I make a putt, I can hear some of them quietly counting—91, 92, 93, 94. . . .
This is part of my pre-tournament routine—one that had been recommended to me by one of the greatest putters the game has ever known—1956 Masters champion Jackie Burke. In this drill, I hit three-foot putts until I make 100 in a row. Ten golf balls. Ten times around the circle. 100 golf balls. But if I miss, I have to start all over again. It may take me only 100 putts if I do it the first time, or it may take 1,500 putts if I keep missing.
That's what happened to me on this past Wednesday's practice session. I kept missing late in my count. "90, 91, 92," the people counted out loud. Then I missed and they groaned. So I started over again. "1, 2, 3. . . ."
I got up into the 90s again. "93, 94, 95," And I missed again. "Oh, noooooo," a couple of guys whispered. "1, 2, 3 . . . " Then I went all the way around again. "97, 98, 99," and I missed the 100th putt.
It kept happening that way. I missed a bunch of times when I was in the 90s, which caused this routine to take forever. I'd much rather miss earlier in the count than late. Golfers who had teed off on their front nine when I started were finishing the 9th hole—and I was still walking around in circles on the putting green. The 1976 Masters champion, Raymond Floyd, looked on for a few minutes. He saw me miss and said, "Man, this is brutal." Then he walked away, unable to watch any longer.
I kept missing on Wednesday. But not today. Today I make the first 100 practice putts. The few who know what I'm doing applaud. And I start my next drill.
It's Sunday morning, April 11, 2004. We're at Augusta National Country Club in Augusta, Georgia. We're going to play the final round of the greatest golf tournament in the world—the Masters.
The Masters: the one tournament with a timeless quality. The only one of the four majors that stays in one place. The others rotate yearly. Not the Masters. It's always played right here on the same golf course—where the legends of golf once stood at the same tee boxes, walked the same fairways, putted on the same greens. Bobby Jones. Walter Hagen. Gene Sarazen. Byron Nelson. Ben Hogan. Sam Snead. In one way or another, they're all here for the 68th Masters. It's Tiger Woods' 10th, Fred Couples' 20th, Tom Watson's 31st, Raymond Floyd's 40th, Jack Nicklaus'44th, and Arnold Palmer's 50th. I've dreamed about winning this tournament since I was nine years old. And now I'm getting my 12th shot at it.
You'll never play a round of golf in a more beautiful setting. The tall pines, the azaleas, the lush green fairways, the velvet greens. Each hole is named for a flower, a plant, a tree, or a bush that surrounds that particular fairway or green. There seems to be a real sense of calmness across the golf course today. The color of the leaves, the smell of the grass. The air, the light, the sun, the feeling. It's hard to explain. This place is just magical. Today's weather is sunny and cloudless with mild temperatures. There are some light winds and conditions are dry. The course will play firm and fast. It'll be a great day to play golf.
During Thursday's first round, we had a two-hour rain delay. Then things cleared up nicely. Actually, I wouldn't have minded at all if the rain had kept up—as long as we could continue playing. When it rains, the ball doesn't run as much once it hits the ground. Since I have a tendency to hit my shots higher and carry them more, I thought it would be an advantage for me. Also, when I was a kid, I'd go to this par 3 golf course near my home. Rainy days were my favorite times because nobody else would be there. So I'd put on my rain gear, grab a bucket of balls, and go out under a palm tree. I'd have the entire place as my private driving range—free to hit the ball wherever I wished. I loved how peaceful and calm it was. One time, it really started to pour and one of my friends who worked in the pro shop came out and asked me what in the world I was doing. "This extra practice, right here, is going to help me win a couple of Masters someday," I responded. That's a true story.
My wife, Amy, and our three children are with me this week. So are my mom, dad, and sister—as are Amy's parents. It's nice to have everybody here, especially today, Easter Sunday. Last night, Amy and I helped the Easter Bunny hide the children's Easter baskets. When Amanda, Sophia, and Evan woke up this morning, they had to follow a trail of jellybeans all over the place—under couches, over tables, behind curtains. It was a lot of fun watching them. Right now they're all back at the house coloring Easter eggs. I know Amanda, especially, was looking forward to that.
It's funny, there are a lot of things I recall from my childhood—but one Easter weekend was especially memorable. It was then that I learned that playing golf was not a right, but a very special privilege.
When Philip was eleven years old, he failed to do his chores around the house. As a boy, he didn't generally do things that were wrong. He just sometimes didn't do the things he was supposed to do.
Well, there were three junior golf events that particular Easter weekend, and Philip's punishment was that he could not play in them. He moped around the house all weekend, but he learned a good lesson.
After that, we never really had too many problems with our son. He knew that golf would be taken away from him if he misbehaved in any way. And that was the last thing he wanted to have happen. I mean, it was pure torture for Philip not to be able to play golf.
Mary and Philip Mickelson, Sr., Phil's Parents
I showed up at the golf course by 10:00 a.m. this morning. Whenever I have a late tee time, as I do today, I use a double warm-up routine that helps me prepare for the day without expending too much energy. I begin with a one- to two-hour practice session at the driving range to work on distance control with my irons—and by that I mean, if I have to hit a shot 132 yards, I do not hit it 137 yards. Given the severity of the greens, a slight miscalculation can mean the difference between birdie and bogey. Then I go over to the practice putting green and, after I make my 100 three-foot putts, I'll take an hour off and eat a good lunch.
At my lunch break today, I changed my shirt from white to black. I usually try to practice in a white shirt because it's cooler and usually matches whatever pants I have on that day. Amy usually picks out what I wear. As a matter of fact, I consult with her on my entire wardrobe because I have zero fashion sense—and I've learned the hard way that I can really get burned if I'm not careful.
When I was a senior in high school, for instance, I qualified as an amateur for the San Diego Open. It was my first real PGA Tour experience and I was very excited. I wanted to dress like the pros so, on Thursday, I wore my coolest pair of yellow polyester pants and a green-striped, hard-collared shirt. I looked good! Or so I thought.
In the middle of the round, my playing partner (who was in his first year on the Tour) was up in the fairway getting ready to hit his shot, so I stood behind him, still as can be, and tried to be quiet. I guess my outfit distracted him, because he said, "Hey, Phil, would you mind moving just a little bit. It wouldn't normally be a problem, but today you look like a freaking canary!" (That's the G-rated version!)
Ooooo, that one hurt because all my friends and family were there, looking on. When I got to Arizona State University the next year, the other members of the golf team took me right down to the mall and made me buy khaki pants and shirts with soft collars.
Philip developed his fashion sense at a very early age. When he was four years old, we sent him to a weeklong golf clinic, and on the last day, he was to compete in a big putting contest against everybody else—including some teenagers.
Well, he was a golfer now and wanted to dress himself for this very important event. We said okay, so he put on a pair of plaid pants and a striped shirt. Then he went out and won that little tournament and brought home his very first trophy (which he slept with that night). And wouldn't you know it, the next morning, Philip's picture was in the local paper—in his glowing outfit holding his new trophy!
Mary and Philip Mickelson, Sr.
When I emerge from the clubhouse with my "Outfit by Amy," I go to the driving range and tune up with some long- and short-iron shots. Then I head back to the practice green and start working on some longer putts. I especially hit a lot of 15- to 20-footers just because, typically, that's the distance you've got to putt to make birdies at Augusta National.
As I wind up my practice session, a lot of nice people are saying encouraging words. "This is your year, Phil." "Make this your first one. We're pulling for you." They are not talking about me winning my first PGA Tournament. I've already won 22 Tour events. They're talking about me winning my first major.
There are four major golf tournaments—the Masters, the U. S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship. This will be my 47th major tournament. My first was the U. S. Open in 1990. I've finished in the top ten sixteen times, but never won. I've finished in third place in three of the last four Masters—including the last three years in a row. The media has blessed me with the title: "The Best Player Never to Have Won a Major Championship." Jack Nicklaus has won the most professional majors—eighteen. Tiger Woods has already won eight. Ben Hogan won nine. Arnold Palmer, seven. Byron Nelson 5. "What's wrong with me?" I keep hearing.
I've come close over the years—real close. In 1999, Payne Stewart holed a long putt at the U. S. Open to beat me by a shot. David Toms did the same thing at the PGA Championship in 2001. And I was runner-up to Tiger at the 2002 U. S. Open. Some people say I seem to "choke" at the big events. Others say that I'm too aggressive, that I "go for it" too often when I should be more conservative and lay up. Still others simply call me "golf's most lovable runner-up." With every year that passes, it seems there is more and more emphasis placed on this "major" statistic. I remember one headline from a national newspaper just before 1999's PGA Championship: "Last Chance for Phil Mickelson to Win a Major Tournament Before the Millennium Ends."
For whatever reason, it's been more difficult for me to win major championships than regular tour events. I'd like to win one. But I don't think I would be a different player if I did. And I certainly don't look at myself as a failure in any way. In that case, I would dread these major tournaments—rather than look forward to them as I do every year. Actually I like the challenge because I truly believe that success is more rewarding when it is difficult to achieve.
My entire family is excited at this year's Masters because I'm tied for the lead after three rounds. I've had rounds of 72, 69, and 69. I haven't made a bogey since the 4th hole of Friday's round. That's 32 holes in a row at par or better. Not bad for some, but amazing for me. I'm driving the ball well and hitting greens in regulation. All in all, I've had a great tournament to this point.
But winning my first green jacket (the traditional award for a Masters champion) won't be an easy thing to accomplish. I'm competing against an international field with some of the finest golfers from America and all over the world. Here's how the leaderboard stacks up as we begin our last round:
|K. J. Choi||-3|
|Davis Love III||-1|
Despite the tough competition, I like my chances today for a number of reasons. First, this is the only time I've ever had the lead (or been tied for the lead) going into the last round of a major. Because I don't have to make up ground on the leaders, I'm not going to have to play flawless golf today.
Second, I'm paired with a good friend of mine, Chris DiMarco. We've played together many times before—going all the way back to college when I was at Arizona State and Chris was at Florida. He and I are tied for the lead and clearly, he's also having a great tournament. Although Chris and I will be competing today, our friendship and his sense of humor should ease some of the tension and pressure.
The third reason I feel good about my chances is that I've really prepared for this event. Last week, I walked the course with Rick Smith (my long-game coach) and Dave Pelz (my short-game coach) trying to find areas where I could shave off a shot or two from my rounds. Also, in my previous eleven Masters, I've become very familiar with the golf course. I know Augusta National inside and out. I've learned the nuances of the course through practice rounds with many of the past Masters champions. I've learned where you can get up and down from off the green to make par. I know which pin placements you can attack, and which ones you should be more cautious toward. I know where you can chip around the greens, and where you should putt instead. I've studied every single green for shot dispersion, speed, and break. This course, I believe, sets up well for me as a left-handed golfer.
Having my friends and family around makes me more determined. Steve Loy, my former college coach and current business manager, is here. So are Dave Pelz and Rick Smith, who, because they know Sunday at the Masters can put a lot of pressure on a golfer, are trying to help me to relax.
Phil was really tuned in during his morning practice session. In fact, he didn't make a bad swing at all. It was a teacher's dream to see him performing so well. There just wasn't anything technical or analytical to discuss. So I tried to make sure he was relaxed.
About a half-hour before he was due to tee off, Phil started talking about solar eclipses and spiral galaxies. At that point, I figured he was relaxed enough.
Rick Smith, Phil's Long-Game Coach
Rick's wife, Tricia (who is a vegetarian and has not broken her diet for over a decade), told me that if I were to win the Masters today, she would eat meat. Maybe that kind of motivation is why Rick put in so many long hours with me. Dave Pelz also reminded me again that I often seem too serious on Sundays. So I've decided to take it easy today and try to have a good time.
Overall, I'm heading into the final round of this major more at ease that I ever have been in the past. I don't feel the usual anxiety. Actually, I haven't felt any all year. Last night, Amy and I talked at length about it. We were just very calm. We felt things were different. For some reason, we both had a belief that I was going to come through—that today was going to be one magical Sunday.
We'd like to thank Larry Kirshbaum and Rick Wolff at the Time Warner Book Group for their insight, encouragement, and enthusiasm during this project. Steve Loy and Bob Barnett, our agents, are the best in the world at what they do and deserve credit for pulling everything together as quickly as they did.
We are also indebted to the following people for their insights, interviews, and support: Mary and Philip Mickelson, Sr., Tina Mickelson, Tim Mickelson, Renee and Gary McBride, Steve Loy, Jim (Bones) Mackay, Dave Pelz, Rick Smith, Amanda Mickelson, Sophia Mickelson, Evan Mickelson, Hevin ZaZa, and T. R. Reinman. At the Time Warner Book Group, we would also like to thank Jason Pinter, Bob Castillo, Thomas Whatley, and Jim Spivey, as well as Ellen Rosenblatt of SD Designs.
A very special acknowledgment must go to Amy Mickelson, who participated in every step of the writing, editing, and creative process. She's a full partner in this effort. Thanks, Amy.
Slight Dogleg Right
Stepping onto the first tee, I shake hands with the marshal in the green jacket and he hands me Chris DiMarco's scorecard. I keep my partner's score, he keeps mine. Chris and I then have a brief conversation about what brand and number balls we are going to play.
I'm pretty calm and looking forward to the day. But I want to get off a decent first shot. Most golfers typically don't play the first four holes very well. They try to hit the ball too hard, often miss the fairway, and end up making bogeys. They have to fight back in the middle of the round and then their scores improve. I'm determined not to go out too hard so that doesn't happen.
Chris has the honors and hits first. "Fore, please," says the marshal. "Chris DiMarco now driving." He drives it in the bunker on the right side of the fairway—not a good place to be. Now it's my turn.
"Fore, please. Phil Mickelson now driving."
There is some applause. I tip my visor, take a couple of practice swings, then stand behind my ball and look down the fairway. Unknown to me, the television broadcast is flashing a graphic up on the screen (just in case anybody forgets):
Most Career Wins
WITHOUT A MAJOR
The key to the first hole is the fairway bunker on the right. It's a 300-yard carry and I don't want to risk flying over it because I'll be left with a very tough shot (just as DiMarco has). I just want to hit it in the fairway. So I'm going to make sure that, if I miss it, I miss it left—even though driving too far to the left may catch the trees. One thing I've worked on all year, however, is taking the right side out of play. I decide to hit a fade (right to left for a left-handed golfer). It's a tight shot for me.
As I step up to the ball, my feet are aimed directly at the bunker. I hit the ball well, but I actually fade it a bit too far (a rush of adrenaline, I guess). The ball takes a huge bounce to the left, plunks against a tree trunk, bounces back, and comes to rest in some pine straw. I think I'll be okay. I should have a shot to the green.
As I walk off the first tee, I'm not overly nervous or excited. I'm looking forward to the day.
Okay, here we go. This is the beginning.
On June 16, 1970, my parents sent out an interesting birth announcement. On the front cover, there was a sketch of a baby with a golf bag slung over his shoulder and a golf green with a little yellow flagstick stuck in it. "Introducing the Mickelsons' 'fourth,'" it said. Inside, the announcement read as follows:
Philip Alfred hurried to join the Mickelson threesome on the first tee at Mercy Hospital for a 3:45 p.m. starting time on June 16, 1970. Using all of his 8 lbs, 13 ounces in a powerful swing, Philip proudly equaled his height with a tee shot of 21 inches. Philip's first message: "Let's play golf at my new home in San Diego."
As you might be able to guess, golf was my father's passion in life. Dad was also a top athlete in his day—an Olympic caliber snow skier, a competition water skier, and a gymnast. He was a fighter pilot in the Navy, flew with the Blue Angels, and was an instructor for the best pilots in the service. Dad also had a teaching degree, but when I was born he was a pilot for a major airline. People tell me that I get my analytical mind from my him—and my sense of humor from my mother. Mom was a nurse and ran her own health care business. She's always been very intuitive, incredibly fun, and just loves practical jokes. My sister, Tina, was nearly two when I was born. And seven years later, my brother, Tim, was born. That completed our immediate family. But our extended family was much bigger—with lots of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. And everybody lived in San Diego.
When I was about 18 months old, and starting to walk fairly well, my dad would take me out into the back yard while he chipped golf balls (we had a good-sized back yard). He would stand near the house in this little area that he had fashioned to look like a tee box. In order to keep an eye on me, he'd sit me down right across from him—just far enough out of range of the clubs. I'd sit there and play with the golf balls. And when my dad would run out, I was reluctant to give him another one to hit because I liked playing with them so much. When all the balls were gone, we'd go get them all, come back, and I'd watch my dad chip them again.
We did that together for about three or four months—my dad chipping and me sitting right across from him watching. Then, just before I turned two, he cut down a right-handed wood short enough for me to swing. Then he had me stand in front of him, and set me up to hit the ball. "Okay, Philip," he said stepping back. "Now, you can hit it."
"Yay!" I said excitedly. Then I went across to my spot, re-gripped the club left-handed, and took a whack at the ball.
My father is one of the most patient men I've ever met—and I think it comes naturally to him. "Well, that was a pretty good swing," he said, "but we've got a right-handed club, so come back over here."
So he set me up again and said: "Okay, go ahead and hit it." And I went right back over to the other side and hit it left-handed again. It just seemed more natural for me to hit the ball left-handed. Besides, I really wanted to be the mirror image of my dad. And he will tell you that my swing was so fundamentally sound that he decided not to mess around with it. "We'll just change the golf club instead," he told my mom.
He took the club over to his workbench and, by sawing and grinding for a while, turned the back into the front and the front into the back. After finishing and lacquering it, I now had my new favorite toy (a left-handed kids club)—and I absolutely wore it out. (By the way, I've always been naturally right-handed. Virtually the only thing I do left-handed is swing a golf club.)
My mom tells me that, at this age, I was just mesmerized with my golf balls. At night before I went to sleep, I'd arrange them just so on my bed, and then I'd sleep with them—along with Flopsy, my stuffed dog, and my special blanket. When I woke up in the morning, the first thing I wanted to do was go out in the back yard and hit my golf balls. So I'd be trying to carry all these golf balls down the stairs and they would fall out of my arms and go bounding down the stairs to the floor. And the sound of those bouncing golf balls was how my mom always knew I was awake and out of bed each morning.
- On Sale
- Mar 1, 2005
- Page Count
- 224 pages
- Grand Central Publishing