Mickelson the crowd’s favourite at US Open
Phil Mickelson is undoubtedly the fan’s favourite to win an elusive first title at the 109th US Open.
The 39-year-old American’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in early May and has since received floods of messages of support from the golfing community.
World number one Tiger Woods was quick to support his compatriot, despite the pair having their differences in the past. Woods lost his father to prostate cancer in 2006 after battling with the illness for eight years.
“Myself and everyone out here hopes that she gets well and she’s back out here as soon as she can,” said Woods.
“I couldn’t imagine dealing with what he has to deal with on a daily basis. And hats off to how he’s handled it because certainly it’s so hard to do.”
Indeed Mickelson, nicknamed “lefty” for his left-handed swing, delayed his arrival at the Bethpage Bleth to spend time with his wife.
The 39-year-old took time off away from golf to be by his wife’s side, but he returned to competition last week in preparation for the US Open, finishing 59th at the St. Jude classic.
Darren Clarke is another golfer who has offered his support to Mickelson, having experienced tragedy in 2006 when his wife passed away. Losing his wife to breast cancer, it emerged that he has been in touch with the popular American.
He relayed his conversation with Mickelson to the media: “We had a good conversation about various things. He’s a good friend.”
“It’s very sad news but it’s early stages so we all hope the tests and everything else go as well as we wish.”
Mickelson himself has spoken about the difficulty of dealing with such a sensitive issue in the public eye. There is no escape for his family with constant reminders of the pain they are going through.
Without doubt, throughout the weekend, he will be under scrutiny to see how he copes with the grief as he makes his away around the 18 holes of the course.
Obviously he will have a form of motivation in attempting to claim his first US Open title: the motivation to win it for his wife.
“Amy’s left me a number of little notes, texts, cards, hints that she would like to have a silver trophy in her hospital room so I’m going to try to accommodate that,” he said.
“I’ve actually been hitting the ball better than I have in a long time and possibly ever.”