HOWARD WARD: Amy and Phil Need Prayers, Kind Thoughts
OK, right up front I'm going to make a confession here.
I am not that crusty old curmudgeon of a newspaper man that I've always tried to portray in this column.
I love writing. I love golf. I love life. I even love most people that I've shared planet space with over the past hundred or so years.
Yeah, I know. I've taken some pretty tough stances against John Daly and Rory Sabbatini and Justin Leonard and even Lee Trevino over the years. I'm on record as saying that I don't particularly care for the seemingly fake smile that Phil Mickelson wears at times.
I've even chided Tiger the Chosen One for his sometimes seeming arrogance. But you know what? I don't hold grudges. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones. So what's a snub from Justin? I've been snubbed by better. And worse.
Seriously, I know that I sometimes take a negative approach to things that go on in the game I love. I hated the attitude that Sabbatini displayed a couple of years ago and I said so in print.
I deplored the waste heap that John Daly had become. The guy had a ton of talent and chose to waste it on a ton of alcohol that led to some stupendously stupid life decisions.
Justin Leonard, who most people seem to think is a really class act, rubbed me the wrong way during the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst when he spent an entire interview answering questions like a smart aleck.
David Duval fell out of my favor (Boy, I'll bet that teaches him a lesson) when he answered questions during that same Open in a monotone that proved undecipherable. I spent 10 minutes listening to his answers and didn't have a note.
(Of course, I have learned since then that I was a prime candidate for hearing aids at the time.)
But people change. And sometimes those changes can be for the better. When that happens, I'm ready to accept those changes on face value.
For instance, Sabbatini recently spent a week on my television screen playing superb golf and conducting himself like a gentleman. OK, Rory you've proved you can be a nice guy, so go for it. I'll no longer openly root for the guy you're dueling with unless you backslide.
Daly appears to be trying to change his life. The big guy with the big appetite for beer and good times, appears to be trying to remake himself into a serious golfer.
I hope so. There are few golfers who have had so many people rooting for them as has Big John. I'm pulling for him to keep shedding pounds and shunning beers in his effort to rejoin the PGA Tour.
As for Mickelson, I have always had a love-hate relationship. No, that's too strong. I've never really loved him or hated him. I have thought he was as talented as any golfer I've ever seen. And I have thought at times that he was one of the most frustrating golfers I had ever seen.
Give Phil a challenge and he tries to double its difficulty factor. At times it's fun to watch. At other times it's excruciating. At all times, he's one of the most exciting players on the Tour.
But no matter how you feel about Phil, you have to be pulling for him and his lovely wife, Amy, as they battle that dreaded breast cancer.
Anyone who has ever had to deal with cancer, either personally or through a loved one, knows what the Mickelsons are facing. No matter your status, cancer is unrelenting. We can only pray that in Amy's case, it was caught soon enough for treatment to be effective.
I don't pretend to know Amy Mickelson, but I don't have to. I've heard enough stories and read enough articles to know that she is one of those people who make our world better.
So yeah, I'm pulling for Rory Sabbatini to prove he's really a nice guy. I'm pulling for John Daly to prove he can stay sober and be a factor on the PGA Tour again.
And I'm pulling for Amy Mickelson to win her battle against the toughest bogeyman in the world.
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