For Phil Mickelson, Family Comes First

For Phil Mickelson, Family Comes First

celebrate Phil Mickelson’s thrilling comeback victory in the 2013 British Open—he came from five back at the beginning of play on the tourney’s final day to win by three strokes—we bring you this Guideposts Classic, in which Mickelson recalls the occasion in 1999 when he resolved that golf would take second place to his responsibilities as a husband and father.

My caddie slid the black pager into his pocket. It was one of those models that vibrate, like the type the hostess sometimes gives you when you’re waiting for a table at a crowded restaurant. Only one person—my wife, Amy—knew the code.

“If that pager goes off, you tell me,” I instructed my caddie as we walked from the practice range through the crowd to the first hole.

I was about to tee off at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Golf Club in the final round of the 1999 U.S. Open, one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments. I had never won the Open—had never won any of golf’s four major events—though I had come tantalizingly close. Now I trailed by a stroke.

But a message on the pager would mean just one thing: Amy had gone into labor with our first child. I was determined to fly back to Arizona to be with her. In fact, I had a private jet standing by.

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