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Mickelson pulls wife's doctor from crowd to caddie for him

The Canadian Press

4/4/2010 4:20:27 PM

HUMBLE, Texas -- Phil Mickelson pulled a special guest out of the gallery at the Houston Open on Sunday to carry his bag for three holes.

Dr. Tom Buchholz, a radiation oncologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, is treating Mickelson's wife and mother, Amy and Mary, who were both diagnosed with breast cancer last summer.

Mickelson left tournament passes for Buchholz, his family and other hospital staff. Out of contention in the final round, Mickelson asked Buchholz to take the bag from regular caddie Jim (Bones) Mackay on the 14th tee.

"This man has helped us through some of the toughest times that we've gone through," Mickelson said. "He's the best at what he does."

Buchholz wasn't totally inexperienced as a looper. He was working in the pro shop at the Westchester Country Club after college in 1984 when he caddied for Allen Miller in the PGA's Westchester Classic. Miller tied for 10th.

"We'd been joking, of course, because he knew of my previous PGA history," Buchholz said. "I was telling him that if Bones sprained an ankle or something, then I would be there for him."

Mickelson sank birdie putts on the next three holes, with Buchholz's help.

"Three great reads, three great clubs," Mickelson said. "It was only supposed to go one hole. I ended up making birdie, and I kept making birdies. We went 3-for-3 together."

Dr. Kelly Hunt, who performed surgery on Mickelson's wife and mother, was also in Mickelson's gallery. She carried a flag from Augusta National that Mickelson signed.

"I was waiting for my turn (to caddie)," Hunt joked. "But Tom has more experience in that area. I had to let him take the lead there."

Mackay was back on the bag for the final two holes, and Mickelson shot a 71 to finish 2 under for the tournament. He made six straight birdies in all -- the last three with Buchholz -- to match the longest streak on tour this year. Matt Every had six consecutive birdies in Phoenix.

Mickelson double-bogeyed three of his first 10 holes Sunday, working on shots he'll need for the Masters next week. Houston Open organizers have tried to set up the Tournament Course at Redstone to simulate conditions at Augusta National, but Mickelson said the layout prevented him from working with his driver.

"This golf course, I know, is nothing like what we're going to play next week," Mickelson said. "None of the shots are the same. Off the tee, water cuts in right at my landing area for a driver. You can't hit drivers here and play this course effectively. But I've got to find out how I'm driving it, where I'm missing and so forth to get ready for next week."