Home is where his heart is

Lefty heads to California to be with his wife
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Phil Mickelson smiles at his wife Amy after winning the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.

After each of his first three rounds of the 74th Masters Tournament, Phil Mickelson cut his interview sessions short to rush back to his rented home.


He wanted be with his wife, Amy, who Mickelson said lacks stamina because of her breast cancer treatment medications.

There was no hurry after Sunday's final round.

Amy Mickelson made her first appearance of the week at Augusta National Golf Club to greet her husband behind the 18th green after he won his third green jacket, which moved him from third to second in the Official World Golf Ranking.

By Monday, they were headed back home to Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., with Mickelson eschewing the glitz and glamour of being a newly crowned Masters champion.

No early-morning or late-night appearances on talk shows, sporting the green jacket. No ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, as he did when he won his first Masters title in 2004.

"They're going straight home," said T.R. Reinman, of Gaylord Sports Management, which represents Mickelson.

Home is where Mickelson and the family will help Amy in her recovery.

"It's been tough," Mickelson said Sunday. "We are fortunate long term, but the meds that's she's been taking has been very difficult and she didn't feel well and she doesn't have energy and she's just not up for a lot that this tournament can provide."

Just having his wife at the Masters was a bonus. It was Amy's first tournament with her husband since being diagnosed 11 months ago.

Playing golf -- especially winning the Masters -- can help the Mickelsons in Amy's recovery.

"It's been a big part of getting through it," Mickelson said. "Golf has been a big part of my life and it's what makes me happy. I really enjoy playing golf, whether is competing in the Masters or whether it's playing at home with friends or with my kids, especially."

In his previous two Masters victories, Mickelson had already won a tournament that year. This year his best finish had been a tie for eighth, and there were questions about his game.

"My performance has not been what I wanted," Mickelson said on Tuesday before the Masters.

He said he was not "overly concerned" about his play because he had a feeling he would play well at Augusta National, which doesn't have severe hazards.

"I had a lot of penalty shots the last three rounds (before the Masters)," Mickelson said. "There's a couple water shots out here. But for the most part they are nothing like what we saw at Houston or what we saw at Bay Hill."

Indeed, Mickelson didn't have a double bogey all week and made just six bogeys to go with 16 birdies and three eagles.

"I hit a lot of good shots," said Mickelson, who shot 16-under 282 (67-71-67-67) and beat Lee Westwood by three shots.

"I hit a lot of perfect shots, but I hit some that weren't, and to be able to recover on those holes and salvage par and not give anything back helps me relax," he said. "That's why I feel at ease here."

After the Masters each year, talk turns to the champion's chances to win the professional grand slam -- the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship -- in the same calendar year.

Mickelson thinks a golfer will do it one year.

"I think it's very possible," he said. "I think you just have to play incredible golf. Tiger's (Woods) already done it. Maybe not in the same calendar year, but he's won four in a row. I do think it's a feat that could be accomplished."

Mickelson, of course, is the only player who could pull it off this year, and he's had success at the remaining venues. The U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach, where he has won the PGA Tour event there three times. The British Open is at St. Andrews (his best finish there is a tie for 11th in 2000), and the PGA is at Whistling Straits (tied for sixth in 2004).

Mickelson's next start is expected to be at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., which starts at the end of this month. Mickelson has played there in each of the past six years.

No one knows when Woods' next start will be after returning last week.

He played in the Masters, finishing tied for fourth, after nearly five months away from the game as he sorted out his personal life.

Watson receives special exemption

FAR HILLS, N.J. --- Tom Watson received a special exemption Monday to play in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won his only U.S. Open in 1982 with a memorable chip-in to beat Jack Nicklaus.

The exemption was announced a day after the 60-year-old Watson turned in another impressive performance at a major, tying for 18th at the Masters. In his previous major, he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink in the British Open at Turnberry.

"I am deeply grateful to the USGA for extending me the invitation to play in the U.S. Open at one of my favorite golf courses in the world," he said. "Some of my life's favorite times have been spent near Stillwater Cove. I know there will be more this coming June."

The U.S. Open is June 17-20.

-- Associated Press

Masters' ratings rise, fall short of record

NEW YORK --- Phil Mickelson's Masters Tournament win, with Tiger Woods lurking but never really in contention, drew much higher television ratings than last year but fell far short of the record set by Woods' first title at Augusta.

Sunday's final round on CBS earned a 12.0 overnight rating and 25 share, up 36 percent from last year's 8.8/21 for Angel Cabrera's win in a two-hole playoff.

But it didn't come close to matching the 15.8/32 for Woods' first Masters victory in 1997.

It was still the third-highest overnight rating for a final round of any golf tournament since at least 1986, which is as far back as the records go. Woods' second Masters title in 2001, when he became the first player to hold all four professional majors at once, drew a 12.9/27.

ESPN saw a ratings increase of 43 percent for its first-round coverage.

-- Associated Press