Phil Mickelson said he almost never cries after his victories, but this was no ordinary victory. This time, as he won the Masters, he walked right off the 18th green and into a long hug with his wife, Amy, who had been crying for most of the afternoon.
"Not much was said," the champion said, after having won the Masters green jacket for a third time. Each one was emotional, but neither of the others was like this one; capping a year in which Amy had surgery for breast cancer.
"This has been such an emotional year for us," he said, referring to "jubilation" that the entire family experienced after he won the tournament that is generally considered the most important of the golf season. "This is something we'll hold dear for the rest of our lives."
Amy, whose long-term prognosis is good, her husband said, had not been on a course at a tournament with Mickelson in 11 months. She and their three children arrived in Augusta Tuesday, but she didn't come to the course for the first three days because she sometimes has had adverse reactions to her medication. She said that she didn't want to worry Mickelson while he was playing.
She said she was feeling well enough Sunday to try to make it, just in case he won. She did watch most of the final round on TV from their rented house.
"I started crying at the 12th hole," she said outside the Butler Cabin, following an awards ceremony, as her husband left for his champion's news conference.
She and her family and friends were still watching when he made a remarkable shot from between two trees on the 13th hole, and they got in 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 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 she suffered a hairline fracture in a roller skating accident.
Amy 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.
Mickelson was emphatic during his remarks at the outdoor awards ceremony. His voice broke when he said, "My wife has been through a lot this year. It means a lot to share some joy together."