Mickelson’s season on hold as wife diagnosed with breast cancer

January 6, 2012

The news that Amy Mickelson has breast cancer stunned and saddened the sports world and put the playing schedule of her husband, 36-time PGA Tour winner Phil Mickelson, on hold indefinitely.

A brief statement released Wednesday morning by Gaylord Sports, Mickelson's management company, said: "More tests are scheduled, but the treatment process is expected to begin with major surgery, possibly within the next two weeks."

Mickelson withdrew from this week's HP Byron Nelson Championship and has suspended his Tour schedule indefinitely, which casts doubts on whether he'll play the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black on Long Island June 18-21. Mickelson became an East Coast favorite at the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage, where he finished second to Tiger Woods. In 18 U.S. Open tries, he's finished runner-up four times, most recently at the 2006 Open at Winged Foot, but he's never won the event.

"I haven't really talked to him about that," Butch Harmon, the golfer's swing coach, said of Bethpage. "The main concern is just to get Amy healthy again. In all honesty, right now golf is the least of the Mickelsons' worries."

Harmon would not say when he learned of Amy's condition, but said he had spoken to Phil. Scott Verplank, a friend and fellow Tour pro, said he received a text message with the news from Mickelson on Tuesday night.

"Every time I've been around her she's always got a smile on her face," Verplank said of Amy. "She's always upbeat, much like Phil."

A two-time winner already this season, Mickelson was considered a favorite at the upcoming Open, which (along with the British Open) is one of two majors he has never won.

Amy and Phil were last seen together in public at a Los Angeles Lakers playoff game, but she toured TPC Sawgrass on foot as Mickelson finished T55 at the Players Championship two weeks ago.

She looked healthy and was as chipper as ever, chatting with Mickelson's fans and reporters.

"We're all just in shock," said Rick Smith, Mickelson's former coach. "We know Amy is a strong person, and her attitude is phenomenal, and that's going to help get her through this difficult time."

The Mickelsons married in 1996 and have three children, ages 9, 7 and 6. Amy almost died during the 2003 birth of their third child, Evan, a harrowing time that Mickelson described in detail in his book, "One Magical Sunday: (But Winning Isn't Everything)."

The trauma led to what was understandably his worst season on Tour in '03, but he bounced back with his breakthrough victory at the 2004 Masters, his first major title, then added the 2005 PGA Championship and the '06 Masters.

One of the most popular wives on Tour, Amy had been looking forward to a return to New York. She was planning on bringing the kids and touring the area's many museums, she said while watching Phil at the Players.

Now she has more important concerns.

"Obviously, it's something we're all saddened by," Harmon said. "I just hope they caught it at an early stage and it can be taken care of. Phil's broken up about it, as any husband would be, but they're positive."