Sometimes it pays to do the right thing. Phil Mickelson decided to fly cross country in order to attend his daughter's eighth-grade graduation this week. Under ordinary circumstances that kind of devotion to your family would be laudable, but this is far from just another week on the calendar for the Mickelsons. It is U.S. Open week, which means Mickelson had to fly back across country on Wednesday night to get back in time for his Thursday morning tee time at Marion.
Most, including myself, felt it would be too taxing for Mickelson to handle. After all, jet lag effects everyone to some degree. It is tough enough to slog through the mental grind that is 18 holes in the United States Open without fatigue joining in the fight.
Yet none of it mattered on Thursday. Despite having his round interrupted by a two-plus hour rain delay, and enduring an early bogey, Mickelson just kept plugging along. He found fairway after fairway, was smart when he needed to be, got aggressive when the opportunity presented itself and most importantly made a ton of putts.
When it was all said and done, Mickelson at three under had shot his lowest round to par in a U.S. Open since 1999. That was one of the years Mickelson finished second in the national championship of golf, something he has done more than any golfer ever. His five times as a bridesmaid certainly have left the golfer known as lefty with some scars. He has discussed openly about how painful some of those finishes were, and how desperately he would like to win this tournament.
That must have made his decision to put his family ahead of golf that much more difficult for Mickelson. He only has so many more opportunities remaining in his prime to finally win a U.S. Open. He also realized he only has so many opportunities to watch his kids grow up. He put family in front of profession. Impressive to say the least.
The just story would be Mickelson marching into the winner's circle on Sunday. That may or may not happen. I still think fatigue will catch up to him eventually. But if I am being honest, I have to truly say that I hope it doesn't.
Mickelson's selfless act deserves to be rewarded by the golf gods.