AUGUSTA, Ga. - Phil Mickelson almost never cries after his victories, he says. But this was no ordinary victory - or ending.
This time, as he won the Masters, he walked off the 18th green and into a long hug with his wife, Amy, who had been crying for most of the afternoon. She hadn't made it to a tournament since her breast cancer was diagnosed 11 months ago, and Mickelson wasn't even sure she'd be waiting for him there Sunday as he made his final putt.
"Not much was said," the champion related after winning golf's premier event for a third time. Each victory was emotional, but neither of the others as much as this one, which capped a long, painful year of surgery and recovery for Amy.
"This has been such an emotional year for us," he said, describing the "jubilation" his entire family experienced Sunday. "This is something we'll hold dear for the rest of our lives."
Amy Mickelson, whose long-term prognosis, her husband said, is good, arrived Tuesday in Augusta with their three children. But she didn't come to the course for the first three days because she sometimes has adverse reactions to her medication. She didn't want to worry Mickelson while he was playing.
Amy Mickelson, one of the most visible and personable of the PGA Tour wives, often walking among the spectators, said she was feeling well enough to try to make it, just in case her husband won. She watched most of the final round on TV from their rented house.
"I started crying at the 12th hole," she said outside the Butler Cabin, after an awards ceremony, as her husband left for his champion's news conference.
She, her family and friends were still watching when he made a remarkable shot from between two trees on the 13th hole, and they got into a car and left for the course when he was on No. 14. By the time he was done, she was near the 18th green.
She was in tears as they hugged, and so was Mickelson's caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, whom Mickelson described as a good friend who had accompanied their family to Amy's surgery in Houston.
Mickelson's mother, Mary, also was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, also has a good prognosis and also was at the course.
It was an "amazing" week, the golfer said, adding that the family had to get X-rays for their daughter Amanda late Saturday night because of a hairline fracture suffered in a roller-skating accident.
Amy Mickelson was done crying and was smiling nonstop about a half-hour after the tournament as she spoke with, and hugged, friends and reporters. "I am really thrilled," she said.
"My wife has been through a lot this year," Mickelson said during the outdoor awards ceremony, his voice breaking. "It means a lot to share some joy together."