x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Early return for Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is sufficiently encouraged by the early diagnosis of his wife's breast cancer to be able to return to professional golf in time to play in the US Open.

Phil Mickelson, the world No 2, and his wife Amy.
Phil Mickelson, the world No 2, and his wife Amy.

Phil Mickelson is sufficiently encouraged by the early diagnosis of his wife's breast cancer to be able to return to professional golf in time to play in the US Open later this month. The left-handed American, ranked second in the world behind Tiger Woods, announced an indefinite departure from the PGA tour when he discovered the condition of his wife, Amy, a fortnight ago. But he has now decided to enter next week's St Jude Invitational in Memphis as preparation for the Open at Bethpage, New York, from June 16-20.

Mickelson finished second to Woods the last time the event was held at Bethpage and his decision to return there will extend his participation in major championships to 61 - the longest current streak on the tour. The winner of two US Masters championships and one US PGA championship, Mickelson is cautious about his plans but posted a bulletin on his website which said: "We have a wonderful team of doctors helping us and it is believed that we caught this early."

Amy added her own personal website message. "We have been home watching the golf at Colonial surrounded by loved ones," she wrote. "Every time we see a player, caddy, announcer, or fan wearing pink we are overwhelmed by the love and support we feel. The 11 days since we received the diagnosis have been very difficult, but this incredible gesture helps us feel so much stronger. We are determined to overcome this."

Meanwhile Woods, who won the US Open title when it was last held at Bethpage in 2002 and is also the defending US Open champion, is to take on golf legend, Jack Nicklaus, in a special skins game at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio today. It will be only the second time the two giants of the game have played together. Woods, who last played with Nicklaus at the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, will be battling against Stewart Cink and Kenny Perry as well as the Golden Bear.

It is a warm-up event for the Memorial Tournament which starts tomorrow and tournament director Dan Sullivan said: "Jack had an interest to play with Tiger and give fans what they want to see." There will be two skins games taking place with Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas and Jim Furyk making up the other foursome. wjohnson@thenational.ae