‘One Magical Sunday’ Remembers Phil Mickelson’s 2004 Masters Win at Augusta

One Magical Sunday: But Winning Isn’t Everything. Phil Mickelson with Donald T. Phillips. New York: Warner Books. 2005. 204 pages, 16 pages of color photogrpahs, no index. ISBN: 0446578576. Available from Amazon.com for $15.61.

Phil Mickelson’s book One Magical Sunday, recounting his win of the 2004 Masters, is subtitled But Winning Isn’t Everything. It isn’t, of course. It’s only what you win that matters. Mickelson played on the PGA tour for ten years…winning a few tournaments here and there and making a good living. But he never rated a biography. After winning his first major, he got two.

The American public in general only loves winners of championships, majors, Olympics etc., and has no use for also-rans, which includes those who take second place on down. (There’s exceptions to every rule, of course. Tennis player Anna Kournikova won nothing during her career, yet she made millions from endorsements. Well, that’s the subject for an article of a different shape.)

Dozens of tournaments are held every year around the world, of greater or lesser importance, depending on the prize money offered, but there are only four ‘Major’ tournaments, each sponsored by a different organization, but under the umbrella of the PGA in the United States and the PGA European Tour in England. No matter how many tournament wins a pro has earned, he will not be considered among the elite unless he wins a major.

And he will not consider himself among the elite unless he does so.

In April its the Masters. In June it’s the US Open, in July the British Open, and in August the PGA Championship. (The Masters is played at the same course each year – Augusta National, in Georgia. The PGA Championship is the only one that does not allow amateurs to compete.)

Phil Mickelson was born on June 16, 1970. His parents sent out a birth announcement on which was a sketch of a baby with a golf bag slung over his shoulder and a golf green with a little yellow flagstick stuck in it. Mickelson was born to play golf.

This fast paced narrative is divided into 18 chapters, one for each of the 18 holes at Augusta on the day he won the tournament. Each chapter opens with a description of the hole, and Mickelson’s emotions and actions at the start of each one.

Pink Dogwood, Par 5, 575 yards, Dogleg Left:
“This is one of the toughest driving holes at Augusta. A very tight, right to left hole – but the green is reachable in two. Definitely an opportunity to make birdie. I must be careful, however. In last year’s final round, I hit it in the hazard, took a penalty stroke, and turned a likely bogey into a miraculous birdie. I don’t want to tempt fate again. There’s a bunker on the right side of the fairway here also – about 300 yars out. I’m toing to aim right at it and hit a little fade…”

Each chapter also ends with a description of his success at the hole, and the ranking of the top eight players at the time.

In between, Mickelson segues into the story of his life, from his birth to the influence of his parents, to the beginning of his golfing career, playing in junior tournaments.

He discussed his planned career with his parents, choosing golf over baseball. He met his future wife Amy in autumn, 1992, after a Guns N’ Roses concert in West Phoenix. She worked for the Phoenix Suns. He tells of his courtship, “Picking your life partner is a critical decision for an individual’s personal happiness.” That line isn’t part of the courtship. He goes on: “And in the world of professional golf, choosing your caddy is just about as critical – because it can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Mickelson won his first tournament as a professional in 1993, the Buick Open. He recounts many of his tournaments played, his training and ambitions, with lots of anecdotes about Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart, Tiger Woods.

“After the first round of the 1994 U.S. Open, I saw Arnold Palmer go into the volunteer tent and stay for over an hour to sign autographs. It turned out that Mr. Palmer was signing for the thousands or so people who were donating their time to keep the tournament running smoothly. And he had kind words for everybody. “I know that you’re all not going to be able to see much golf this week,” he said, ‘But we all appreciate everything you do to make this tournament a success. You are all doing a great job.’

That really stuck with me. I just thought it was a classy thing to do. In the years since, I’ve tried to emulate Mr. Palmer by setting aside some time after every round to accommodate as many autograph requests as I can.”

His family life is just as important to him, as he recounts the birth of his children, Amanda, Sophie and Evan (a difficult birth for both mother and child) , and their growing up.

Throughout the book we’re also treated to personal memories from Mickelson’s wife and parents, his coach and his caddy, illuminating his personal and professional life, rounding out this honest portrait of a ‘gentleman and a golfer.’

Golfers will love Mickelson’s chronicle of his magical march to victory on the final day of Augusta…the insights into the mind of a professional golfer on one of the most important days of his professional life. Everyone else will love the portrait of a devoted family man.

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