With the Christmas celebrations out of the way and the new year 2010 (and the new PGA Tour season) still a couple of days ahead it feels like the perfect time to sit down and reflect on the past year.With the financial and economic crisis it was an eventful, busy and stressful year for many of us. While Phil Mickelson certainly wasn’t too concerned with the effects that an almost worldwide recession had on his business, he too won’t forget about this past year too quickly.
Here are my favorite Phil Mickelson moments of 2009:
1) Wife Amy and Mother Mary diagnosed with breast cancer
Now please don’t get me wrong here: What I like about this is obviously not the fact that two members of the Mickelson family were diagnosed with that tragic disease within a few weeks of each other but rather the way how Phil and his family handled the situation. To immediately suspend his PGA Tour season was bad news for golf fans all over the world but definitely the right thing to do. To me it showed (once again) that Phil Mickelson might be a multi-millionaire but that nothing is more important to him than his family.
Even though Tiger Woods has reacted in the same way (in announcing an indefinite absence from professional golf) when news about his turbulent marital life broke he would’ve been well advised to set his priorities accordingly a long time ago.
The condolence within the golf community (and far beyond) was overwhelming: Within hours after we posted the news about Amy’s diagnosis on the website, hundreds of fans from all over the world had left a message sending their prayers and wishes to Amy and Phil.
2) Phil’s emotional return to the PGA Tour at the US Open
Even though Phil already returned to the Tour at the St. Jude Classic, the pictures that will stay in my mind (forever) are the ones from the US Open at Bethpage Black. Playing in only his second tournament after going public with the news about Amy’s diagnosis, Mickelson delivered a heroic fight in front of his die-hard New York fans to finish in a tie for second behind surprise winner Lucas Glover.
3) Five wins in a season!
Due to the events in his personal life, Phil played in only 18 events on the PGA Tour (plus the Barclays Singapore Open on the Asian Tour).
Among others he did not tee it up at the 2009 British Open in July to be with his wife Amy and mother Mary. He missed only two cuts at the FBR Open (his first tournament of the season) and the Shell Houston Open prior to the Masters. In the remaining 16 events, Mickelson finished inside the Top-10 an impressive seven times and earned more than $6.5 Mio. in prize money (incl. $1.2 Mio. for his victory in the WGC – HSBC Champions which is not an official PGA Tour event).
While everybody will understand that consistency couldn’t be asked of Phil Mickelson in 2009, I consider it to be one of his best seasons ever. It sure was exciting: Whenever he set foot on a golf course you couldn’t be sure if he would miss the cut or win the tournament.
With all the frenzy surrounding his personal life during the past months, we all tend to forget what an exceptional season Phil had on the golf course:
It started with a successful title defence at the Northern Trust Open in February. His next victory came at the CA Championship at Doral where Phil successfully overcame a virus disease, heat exhaustion and dehydration to win the first World Golf Championship title of his career and move back to the number two spot in the official world golf rankings.
After what can only be described as a roller-coaster season, Phil ended his 2009 campaign in style with victories at the The Tour Championship and the WGC - HSBC Champions in China.
While we are all wondering what the golf world will look like without Tiger next season I send my best wishes to Phil Mickelson, his family and all the readers of phil-fanatics.com. Happy New Year and see you all in 2010!