Mickelson in a better place, ready for golf

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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AKRON, Ohio - The practice sessions have been a little sharper, his optimism much greater. Phil Mickelson isn't sure how that will translate on the golf course, and he's not sure that even matters at the moment.
Mickelson is simply thrilled to be back on the PGA Tour, for no other reason than he wasn't expecting to play so soon.
It was only six weeks ago when his wife had surgery for breast cancer, about the time Mickelson's mother discovered she also had breast cancer. While he chose not to go into details on their recoveries, that he is back to work said plenty.
"We're in a much better place now than we were," Mickelson said Wednesday. "I'm excited about that. I'm excited about the chance to play a little golf, too."
He returns to competition at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he was the runner-up a year ago at Firestone. Then it's off to Hazeltine for the PGA Championship, the final major of the year.
His turbulent summer has taken a toll.
Mickelson has played only twice since The Players Championship in May. A week later, he disclosed that his wife, Amy, had breast cancer. Doctors caught it early enough that surgery was pushed back to July, allowing Mickelson to play the St. Jude Championship and the U.S. Open, where he had a share of the lead until a record-setting fifth runner-up finish.
He once was consumed by fear of not knowing what Amy faced. That has been replaced by hope that she will make a full recovery.
"I feel we've been fortunate because of a couple reasons," he said. "Both my mom and Amy have caught it early, and we've been able to have some wonderful care. And not only have the doctors been incredible in their science, but they've also been very compassionate toward us. We've had a great medical experience.
"We feel lucky to be - for a bad situation - in as good a situation as it can be."
He declined to elaborate on the surgery or the recovery his wife and mother face because it's not about golf. Mickelson doesn't mind talking birdies and bogeys, the family vacations they love to take, even his hopes of being able to buy a chain of breakfast restaurants.
And while he was willing to go public with Amy's cancer and his own emotions - breaking down in tears while driving - this part of the process is one that stays at home.
"It's hard for me to really talk openly because it's not involving me," he said. "It's involving Amy, it's involving my mom, and it's a personal issue with them. I want to respect their wishes and not go into too much detail. But I feel like we've been fortunate."
His last shot in competition was tapping in for par at the Bethpage Black to close with a 70 - he was the only player to shoot par or better all four days at the U.S. Open - to finish two shots behind Lucas Glover.
It was his fifth runner-up finish in 11 years at the major that means so much to him. This one was far easier to take, realizing that he had bigger issues in life than posing with a silver trophy.
Mickelson didn't return to practice until recently, which included a scouting trip to Hazeltine last week. Even so, he has tried to keep his mind active on golf, even sharing how he would rehearse shots while in the hospital.
"I expect to play like I always have," he said. "When I had my nurse gown on, I would mentally rehearse shots and stuff to just kind of keep myself sharp, even though I wasn't touching a club. So I think when I came back and was finally able to swing a club, I was able to play fairly decently."

Organizations: U.S. Open, Bridgestone Invitational, Firestone

Geographic location: AKRON, Ohio, Hazeltine

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