Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the three-time major champion said Wednesday he will suspend his PGA Tour schedule indefinitely.
According to a release from Mickelson's management company, his wife was to have more tests but begin treatment with major surgery as early as the next two weeks.
Mickelson, the No. 2 player in the world with 36 career PGA Tour victories, was to play the Byron Nelson Championship this week before defending his title next week at Colonial. It was not certain if he would return in time for the U.S. Open on June 18-21 at Bethpage Black, where he was the runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2002 and is beloved by golf fans in the New York area.
"Elin and I are deeply saddened to hear the news about Amy," Woods said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her, Phil, the children and the entire Mickelson family."
Amy Mickelson is among the most visible wives on the PGA Tour, a former Phoenix Suns cheerleader who regularly walks during the rounds and mingles easily with the gallery. She was waiting with their three children by the 18th green at Augusta National in 2004 when Mickelson won his first major, and at Winged Foot in 2006 at the U.S. Open, his most crushing loss in a major.
One of the photos in the clubhouse at the Byron Nelson Championship is Mickelson walking with Amy when they were engaged in 1996 and Mickelson won the tournament.
Scott Verplank, who played on two Ryder Cup teams and two Presidents Cup teams with Mickelson, said Lefty sent him a text Tuesday night. "I had a hard time sleeping," Verplank said.
"Every time I've been around her, she's always had a smile on her face. She's always upbeat," Verplank said. "She's a neat girl. Hopefully, it's early and hopefully, they take care of it. I just sent Phil a text back. I didn't call him or anything. He'll call me if he needs anything."
Mickelson met his wife in 1992 when he was a senior at Arizona State, a year after he won his first PGA Tour event as an amateur.
Amy knew nothing about golf at the time.
"I grew up in a tennis family, and when he told me he was a pro golfer, I thought he worked in the shop at a golf course," she wrote in Mickelson's book, "One Magical Sunday," after he won his first major at the 2004 Masters.
The first time she accompanied him to a golf tournament, the Bob Hope Classic, she figured they would walk hand-in-hand down the fairway and was angry at him for not spending enough time with her. But once she learned the difference between birdies and bogeys, she has been at his side during the highs and low.
They were married in 1996 and have three children: Amanda, 9, Sophia, 7, and Evan, 6. Their first child was born the day after the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2., where Mickelson carried a pager and promised to leave if his wife went into labour.
Contractions began on Sunday, but she decided not to tell Mickelson as he tried to win his first major. He lost by one stroke when Payne Stewart holed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole, and Mickelson arrived home in time for the birth.
Sarah Strange, a breast cancer survivor and wife of former Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange, said Amy Mickelson's outgoing personality would play a big part in her recovery.
"She's such an upbeat person, and I think she'll approach this in the same way, moving forward with confidence," Sarah Strange said. "I'm sure she's getting the best treatment they can find. An upbeat attitude plays such a key role in this, her own and those around her. I'll certainly be extending any experiences I've had, any questions she could ask me to keep upbeat.
"She was so supportive of me being a captain's wife," she said. "In return, she will feel that support from others."
How much golf Mickelson misses this summer is uncertain, but it comes at a time when Woods, his chief rival, returned from eight months away with knee surgery. They played together in the final round of the Masters and practically stole the show with an exciting charge up the leaderboard. Mickelson finished one shot ahead of Woods, but three shots out of the playoff won by Angel Cabrera.
"We are saddened by the news of Amy Mickelson's diagnosis, but are hopeful that with the support of Phil and her family and friends, she will come through this difficult time," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "The thoughts and prayers of everyone connected with the PGA Tour are with the Mickelson family."
The news was quick to reach Europe, where John Daly is playing in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
"That is so sad," Daly said. "She's a great girl. My prayers are out to her and Phil. Hopefully, everything goes well."