Phil Mickelson took the week off, but the feelings he triggered by winning the Masters resonate in towns across America, Lawrence included.
The hug seen ’round the world beside the 18th green at Augusta — the one Phil shared with his wife, Amy, who battles breast cancer — stands as the most powerful sports moment of the year.
Just ask Marty Pattin, as old-school a baseball guy as you’ll ever encounter.
“I cried when I watched them (on TV) hugging,” said Pattin, who lost two wives to cancer.
It’s always nice to run into the personable 114-game winner at The Shenago, the “Cheers” of Lawrence. Nicknamed “Duck” because of his extraordinary Donald Duck impersonation, Pattin entertains patrons now and then by quacking along with crooning Dean Martin.
Duck is as real as they come. Mickelson, who usually wears a smile on the golf course, has been accused behind his back by jealous competitors of being less than that. Yet, fans love him because he connects and has a reputation for being a great tipper. You have to love him for that.
Watching Mickelson, who golfs with a pink ribbon on his cap, answer questions about his wife’s health, it’s clear he’d prefer not to talk about family issues, but he knows he must. He answers the questions graciously and moves on.
More than the pristine golf course and feel-good stories of triumph such as Mickleson’s make the Masters a heavenly event, according to those who have attended.
Former Kansas University athletic director Monte Johnson and wife Kay partook in a KU Alumni Association trip that included Friday tickets to the Masters to watch the second round.
“It’s so organized,” Monte said of the tournament. “The rest rooms, the concessions, everything. There are trees that throw off about an inch of what looks like a little worm. They’re all over the place. They have crews on almost all the greens picking them up between groups.”
One such tree part landed on the green in the middle of a Mickelson putt on No. 2 on the final day and threw it off line. He shook off the incredibly rotten luck remarkably well.
Mickelson didn’t generate all the buzz at the Masters. Talk of a golf ball that is all the rage, the Penta TP, the first five-layer ball, also picked up steam to the delight of a man married to one-time Lawrence High volleyball standout, Leslie Catlin Maggiore.
“The simplest way to explain what makes this ball different is, the harder you hit it, the less it spins,” said Bob Maggiore, VP of brand and product marketing for TaylorMade-adidas golf in San Diego. “Off a driver face, it allows you to jump on it for a higher launch with less spin. Closer to the green, when you’re not hitting it as hard, it allows you to get more control and more spin all the way through. Every other tour ball has something you’re sacrificing.”
Thanks to ever-improving equipment, Mickelson, the Masters, Englishman Brian Davis honorably calling himself on a rules infraction nobody else would have noticed on the first playoff hole in a loss Sunday to Jim Furyk in the Heritage, golf has strong momentum, despite Tiger Woods playing such the brat at the Masters.