As this year’s US Open comes to an end, Justin Rose can celebrate his maiden major title and revel in being the first English golfer to win the tournament for 43 years. However it was the man who trailed two shots behind him, and his story, which has fascinated golf for so long.
Phil Mickelson has always been followed by the story and constant critique that he had failed five times to become victorious in the US Open in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 (and now he has a sixth failed attempt to his name). It is a line which must become particularly irritating and exasperating for a man who has been as successful as he has.
The Californian golfer has won 41 PGA Tour events, making him the ninth most successful player ever, and has been victorious in the Masters Tournament of 2004, 2006 and 2010 as well as the PGA Championship in 2005.
As with sportsmen and women all over the world who dominate their professions, they are the subject of jealousy and envy from their competitors. Mickelson is no exception.
Rumours regularly circulate of his unpopularity within the golfing world, many citing that his aloofness and air of superiority is difficult to stomach.
This is an opinion that is not shared by his fans and most of the golfing community over the world who can only marvel at his ability to overcome his own personal challenges and the commitment he has to his family, something lacking in particular men at the top of the game.
In 1999 he played at the US Open wearing a pager which would let him know the moment his wife Amy went into labour, and when she did eventually give birth he took a long break from the game in order to help start their life as a family.
Back in 2003 his son Evan was in hospital struggling to breath and his wife Amy had suffered a ruptured artery so once again he took a break from the sport in order to make sure they had every bit of support he could offer.
Few would argue that 2009 presented his family’s biggest challenge, when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Again Mickelson took time away from golf and his dedication was rewarded when Amy was able to watch him at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in 2010, where he took home his third green jacket.
And his success in 2010 shows exactly why Mickelson is loved by fans all over the world and is considered one of the greatest players to grace the game. Despite all the strife and turmoil he and his family have had to tackle in his long career, and the dedication he has applied to those struggles, he has still maintained a career that rivals those of any golfer in the history of the game.
Any cynicism aimed at the 43-year-old says more about the mentality of those commentators, rather than taking away any of the shine from an incredible accomplishment. Golf is lucky to have him.
Mickelson will lose no sleep after this recent loss, nor will he lose any fans.
image: © Jim Epler