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Mickelson skips practice round to be with wife

Phil Mickelson didn't show Monday, much to the dismay of fans who came to Bethpage Black for a glimpse of him. Don't expect him for at least another day or so.

Mickelson was tending to a much more important matter than a practice round: He reportedly returned home to California to spend an extra day or two with his wife, Amy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer May 20.

Mickelson's media session initially was booked for this afternoon. Now it's scheduled at 8 a.m. Wednesday, after which he may try for a practice round. He did sneak in 18 holes in the rain last Tuesday, a day after Tiger Woods stopped by the Black for 18.

Woods was first man off the tee Monday, heading out for a few holes just after sunrise. Mickelson was expected to arrive on the practice range early Monday. "We're expecting him," a practice-range volunteer said around 8 a.m. "So are a lot of other people, I bet."

Mickelson was not even expected to return to the Black Course a month ago, when news of his wife's diagnosis was revealed. Amy Mickelson attends nearly every major event with the entire family.

Mickelson decided to play the St. Jude Classic over the weekend in Memphis, where he tied for 59th. He went straight home to Rancho Santa Fe rather than face the hubbub on Long Island. It will be a welcoming frenzy for Mickelson, who was adopted by Long Islanders in 2002, when he finished second to Woods. Despite being a laid-back Californian, he meshed well with the Black's rowdy crowd.

"In 2002, Bethpage, it was an emotional experience for me,'' Mickelson said last week. "I anticipate it being an emotional experience playing this year. My quest is to win my first U.S. Open after four seconds, numerous close calls . . .

"But right now, I'm just fortunate that I'm going to be able to play and I hope to play well. I know that after that, I've got something going on that's more important and takes my mind off it."

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