“You’re Gonna Love Being a Father!”
And a special greeting to all the Dads out there, who will be honored on Sunday with “World’s Greatest Dad” merchandise and semi-authentic Piney Woods car fresheners. As we all know, Dads are the ones who offer such sage advice as “whatever Mom says is fine.” I look forward (hopefully) to a peaceful day, with some of it spent on the golf course.
We will tie in golf and Fathers Day in this edition of VFB, but first a check of my Washington Nationals, who started a big road series with the Mets with an 8-3 win at Citi Field (which should be re-named Nats Park North, for all the success they’ve had there since 2012). For at least one night, the Nationals beleagured “Gas Can Gang” of a bullpen didn’t provide any drama, and the Nats won easily. For the time being, I’ve climbed down off the ledge…
Now, for today’s main topic. This week is the 117th U.S. Open Golf Tournament, the USGA’s annual beat-down that coincides with Father’s weekend. It’s the first Open in a while without both Tiger Woods (whose physical ailments and off-course travails have been well-documented) and Phil Mickleson. Phil is 47 now and has been the US Open runner-up 6 times. It’s the only major he has yet to win in his quest for the “grand slam” and his window of opportunity is closing. Yet Phil gave up his spot in the Open this week in order to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, a once-in-a-lifetime milestone.
I would like to think the seeds of fatherhood were planted for Phil this week in 1999. A much-younger Mickleson was locked in a memorable duel with Payne Stewart at the US Open at Pinehurst. Payne, who was already a father, was paired with Phil, who was wearing a beeper because he and his wife were expecting their first child, possibly at any minute. The two golfers traded the lead several times on that memorable afternoon, before Stewart won his second US Open with an 18 foot putt on the final hole.
One of Payne’s first thoughts was not to dance around the green in victory, but to console a disappointed Mickleson, by taking Phil’s face in both hands and reminding him that “you’re gonna love being a father!” Amanda Brynn Mickleson was born the next day, and graduated from high school this Thursday with Phil in attendance, as our story comes full-circle.
As a footnote, Payne Stewart perished a few months later in a plane crash and died the reigning US Open Champion. A statue of Stewart in his now-famous victory leg kick stands at the Pinehurst Resort, a reminder of Payne’s Open win, but of the man he was, and how he put fatherhood and golf in the proper perspective on Father’s Day, June 20th, 1999.
Enjoy your “Best Dad Ever” coffee mugs, and have a wonderful Father’s Day! Until next time…GO HORNETS!