The unsinkable Amy Mickelson is not easily offended, much less someone who needlessly revels in bad news or runs away from fans and the public. Quite the contrary.
For whatever reason, her famously successful husband, a certain left-hander who ranks No. 2 in the world, has often been a lightning rod for salacious stories, brutally baseless innuendo and scathing gossip. Surely, you've heard a few of them yourself.
|Amy Mickelson has never been somebody to take herself too seriously. (Getty Images)|
Walking along the gallery ropes at a tournament recently, she was overheard repeating some of the wildest of their alleged escapades while rolling her eyes.
"Oh, wait, have you heard the one about me and Michael Jordan?" she said, howling.
That's what makes Wednesday's news that much harder to accept: The most unguarded, unpretentious and personable wife on the PGA Tour was diagnosed with breast cancer and is likely to face surgery soon.
Upon receiving the news, Phil withdrew Wednesday from the Byron Nelson Championship and suspended his tournament play indefinitely to tend to the mother of his three young children, who all are age 9 or younger.
People think of Amy mostly as the blond blur who happily bolts onto the 18th green, with their mop-topped kids in tow, whenever her husband hoists yet another trophy. Hokey as it might sound, that's selling her short, because if there's anybody who can handle the current situation, it's Amy Mickelson, one of the most irrepressible people associated with the sport.
Six years ago, during the delicate delivery of the couple's third child, she almost died after suffering a torn uterus, lapsing into a coma and experiencing massive blood loss. As Phil paced in the hospital hallway, he overheard a nurse say it was sad that if their baby boy, Evan, pulled through, he would have to grow up without a mother. She was rushed into surgery and survived.
In an era when some wives of prominent players practically flee the course when identified by fans or media -- Elin Woods is notoriously guarded and eschews all interviews -- Amy Mickelson is the polar opposite. She gladly gabs with strangers and spectators, often cracking self-deprecating jokes about herself and her husband. She even knows the names of some lowly media scribes and treats us like something other than a walking O.B. stake.
At the Masters, a couple of us writer types happened across Amy while walking on the fourth hole, while she was waiting to cross the fairway with a small army of family members. As usual, she greeted me as if I were anything but the enemy and promptly introduced me to Phil's mother and sister.
It had been a few months since we had last chatted, when I had teased her about being swallowed up alive by the crowd at the U.S. Open, where her husband had been paired with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott for two days. Since she stands about a foot shorter than her 6-foot-2 husband, she was always hearing remarks about her being short.
Nonetheless, for the next few minutes as her husband played Augusta National, she chatted happily about her kids and some of the school projects they involved with back home in San Diego, where her eldest was studying the history of the California Missions. I might as well have been a Mickelson cousin.
"We've been very lucky because with Phil's schedule, we've been able to visit some of the missions in person," she said of the old adobe churches, which dot the coastal area.
She has never forgotten how lucky she has been, either. Nor neglected to pay it forward tenfold.
It's hard to keep track of the charities she and Phil have adopted as personal causes, including providing aid to buy clothes for underprivileged San Diego school kids, helping wounded military personnel, and trying to ramp up an emphasis on our country's flagging science and math interests.
Phil would be the first to admit that she's the backbone of the Mickelson unit, if not the glue. She's forever been full of thoughtful surprises, as evidenced by the gift she gave her husband for his 38th birthday last summer –- a prehistoric dinosaur head found in China. For Christmas, she once gave him a meteorite that had crash-landed in South America.
Gifts for the "man who has everything," Phil cracked. Right now, you can bet he'd trade it all for a positive medical report, because the rest amounts to nothing more than trinkets, creature comforts and window dressing.
In a decade of watching her husband play some of the craziest shots in the history of the game, with wildly mixed results, I have never seen Amy Mickelson in a bad mood.
Today, I'm bummed enough for the bunch of us.