AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson touched his little daughter on the back to direct her to her mother's side. He did it the first step out of the scorer's hut after signing for a one-under-par 71 that left him such a distance behind the leaders that even this most optimistic of golfers decided that to win he would need "a hot round tomorrow," something in the low 60s while the guys up-front stagger some.
Not that he would lose any sleep over it. He's won here three times, last a year ago when he left that scorer's hut and embraced his wife, Amy. She'd made the trip to Augusta after a year's treatment for breast cancer and finally was strong enough to leave the house, if only to meet the new champion at the moment of his victory.
Even on a day that was "frustrating on the greens," a day when an inch over a bunker, a foot nearer a green, might have saved him three, four shots, Mickelson said, "I loved every minute of the walk. And it really is a great feeling to cruise around Augusta knowing that I've won on this golf course ... It kind of takes some of the stress away because it's a tournament that I've dreamt about winning as a kid ... the pressure of wanting to win it so bad to be a part of this history."
Then there was his wife, not staying back in the house but on the course, walking in the sun, daughter at her side. "This was really a big step for us," Mickelson said, "because if you look back day-to-day you don't notice the progress that you make. And here we are a year and a half, almost two years in, and we're getting back to doing the things we normally do, which is a really good sign."
-- Dave Kindred