There are five men who have achieved the near-impossible in the world of golf. Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen have all completed the PGA “Grand Slam” by winning each of the four major tournaments: British Open, PGA Open, the Masters, and the U.S. Open.
One golfer is knocking hard on the door of that illustrious achievement, having already won the first three and having finished second place at the U.S. Open on six separate occasions. Phil Mickelson, the left-handed golf superstar, turns 47 in just a week and knows his window for achieving golf immortality is rapidly closing.
Still, Phil Mickelson will not be participating in the U.S. Open Championships when they open later this week. Not because of injury, suspension, or disqualification. Because he knows what is far more important:
[T]he tournament’s first round on June 15 clash[es] with his daughter Amanda’s graduation from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California.
The New York Times broke news of Mickelson’s withdrawal on Saturday, quoting the 46-year-old as saying: “As I look back on life, this is a moment I’ll always cherish and be glad I was present. There’s no greater joy as a parent.”
“So my daughter is graduating and she’s the school president, she’ll be giving the commencement speech for the school, and I’m gonna be there,” Mickelson told reporters following Saturday’s round. “Unfortunately it comes on the Thursday of the Open, around 10 in the morning Pacific, so there’s really no way to make it no matter what the tee-time is.”
Plenty of parents make similar sacrifices for their children, no question. But in a culture that worships celebrity, it is refreshing to see one do something honorable. Too often those whose names we recognize model the ideals of self-love, self-importance, and self-promotion. And too often the lesson that is conveyed to impressionable Americans is that success is defined by what someone achieves in their profession, how much money they collect in their bank account, or the amount of worldly awards and prizes they accumulate in their trophy rooms.
The truth is the most lasting legacy we leave on this planet is the love, interest, and esteem we pour into others, particularly our families. Praise God that unlike so many in the public eye these days, Phil Mickelson gets that.