For Phil Mickelson, who needs just one U.S. Open victory to break his all-time record of six runner-up finishes and complete the career grand slam, skipping next week’s major at Erin Hills was a no-brainer.
“I love the [U.S.] Open, but this is a special moment for us,” Mickelson told reporters Wednesday from the FedEx St. Jude Classic about missing the golf tournament to attend the high school graduation of his daughter, Amanda. “I mean, my daughter’s speaking, she’s giving the speech there at graduation. It’s one of those things you just need to be there, so it wasn’t a hard decision.”
Lefty announced last week that, “barring something unforeseen,” as he told the New York Times, he would be present for his 18-year-old daughter’s commencement speech at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif., on June 15. That’s the day the 117th U.S. Open kicks off at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, and for the first time since 1993 (despite a failed online petition requesting that the school change the graduation date), Phil will not be in attendance at his national championship.
The U.S. Open will be the first golf major without either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson in the field since the 1994 Masters.— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) June 5, 2017
Don’t cry for the five-time major champion, though, because family always comes first. Phil-ologists will recall that Mickelson flew home from Merion for Amanda’s eighth-grade graduation the day before the 2013 U.S. Open and got back to the course with a couple of hours to spare for his opening-round tee time.
He also planned to withdraw from the 1999 tournament if his wife Amy had gone into labor with Amanda, the Mickelsons’ first child.
In both events, Mickelson came in second, and he noted that the agony of that 1999 defeat to Payne Stewart was soon replaced by the thrill of fatherhood.
“I had this emotional low of losing the U.S. Open by a shot and then experiencing the greatest emotional high you ever could as a person the very next day,” Mickelson said on the eve of the tourney at TPC Southwind where he tied for second last year. “As you get older and you share these moments, you realize the greatest moments in life are those spontaneous moments with your family.”
And if you’re wondering what Amanda, president of her high school class, had to say about the situation, well, that remains a mystery.
“She’s always been very supportive,” the soon-to-be 47-year-old Mickelson said recently. “It really wasn’t something we discussed because there really wasn’t much of a decision.”