Skip to comments.President Bush Called Phil Mickelson shortly after Masters Victory
Posted on 04/13/2004 4:13:17 PM PDT by jern
ESPN.com: Masters 2004
Tuesday, April 13, 2004 Mickelson returns home proudly with jacket
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Associated Press
SAN DIEGO -- Back in his hometown, Phil Mickelson walked into an exclusive country club looking a lot like he did at dusk two days earlier at Augusta National.
"I said Sunday night that it was going to be hard to wipe away the smile and take away the jacket," said a beaming Mickelson, clad in green again Tuesday at La Jolla Country Club.
"They tried to pry it away when I left, but I'd have none of it. So here it is," added Mickelson, who won the Masters with a thrilling 18-foot birdie putt on the last hole.
Mickelson must have had the jacket pressed, because his wife, Amy, said he slept in it Sunday night.
"It was me, Phil and the green jacket," she said. "We might be sleeping with that green jacket for a while."
Lefty returned to the Left Coast on Monday, spending what he called a relaxing day with his family. On Tuesday, he held a news conference at La Jolla Country Club, where he's a member, before heading to Burbank to appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
Mickelson was reminded that he went from being labeled as the best player to have never won a major to being the only guy with a shot at the Grand Slam this year.
"Yeah, how quickly it changes," said Mickelson, who had been 0-for-42 in majors as a pro. "It's been such a nice change. I'm certainly not thinking that far in advance. I really just want to spend the next few weeks enjoying this.
"But I can't wait to get out and play," he quickly added. "I'm enjoying playing the game so much. I'm enjoying all my practice sessions, I'm enjoying my time off the course with my family. It's just been such a wonderful year starting out, and this just makes it special."
Mickelson knows the next few weeks will be hectic, but otherwise, he doesn't anticipate that his life or career will change.
He said Mondays and Tuesdays will remain family days. He won't play again until New Orleans at the end of the month, which will give him time to take his three kids to the zoo, Sea World and Legoland.
Mickelson said it was special sharing the Masters victory with his family.
"To have my children there was awesome, to walk off the 18th green there and to see my wife experiencing the whole thing with me and feeling the same emotion that I felt," Mickelson said.
"I'm very lucky because of that, to have such a wonderful spouse, to have three wonderful healthy kids. I'm just very lucky, especially given what we went through last year."
Amy Mickelson nearly died during the birth of their third child, son Evan.
With his family OK, Mickelson can concentrate on golf -- and, now, on trying to win another major.
"I do feel that the second will not be as difficult as the first," said Mickelson, who smiled all the way through his back nine Sunday, when he shot 31 with birdies on five of the last seven holes.
"Because every time I would get in contention, it was almost as though it was an opportunity not to succeed, but an opportunity to fail. I never looked at it like that, but at times, when things began to slide, it was harder for me to turn it around."
Mickelson also divulged what President Bush told him in a phone call shortly after his jump for joy on the 18th green.
"It was awesome that he called," Mickelson said. "And he roughed me up. The President of the United States roughed me up. He said, 'Now I understand why last year you tried to throw a baseball instead of a basketball.' I said, 'What do you mean?' and he said, 'I saw you try to jump.'
"So my seven-inch rise wasn't good enough for him, I guess."
Last summer, Mickelson threw batting practice to 18 Toledo Mud Hens players, most of them pitchers, hoping to earn a chance to pitch in a real game for Detroit's Triple-A affiliate. But the Tigers didn't offer him a minor league contract.
Asked what he'll have on the menu for the Champion's Dinner before next year's Masters, he said: "I hadn't really thought about it, but I love a little lobster ravioli in a creamy tomato sauce, a little garlic bread and Caesar's salad.
"But who's thinking about it?" he said, smiling.
Traditionally, the champion takes his Jacket home with him for one year, returning it to the Club when he returns for the Tournament. The Jacket is then stored at Augusta National Golf Club and is available whenever the champion visits. Near the conclusion of the Masters, several Jackets are selected which could fit the possible winner during the presentation ceremony. The winner will have his measurements taken at the Club's Golf Shop or may provide measurements so that a custom made Green Jacket can be tailored. Typically, a multiple winner will have only one Green Jacket unless his size drastically changes.
Tiger Woods went to sleep wearing his green jacket after a record-smashing performance made him the youngest Masters champion ever.
From Tommy Aaron to Fuzzy Zoeller, only a select group of players have owned one -- not just any green jacket, but the most coveted prize in golf that comes with winning the most exclusive major championship.
Until two years ago, Jack Nicklaus wasn't on that list.
How could that be?
No one has written more history at historic Augusta National than Nicklaus, a six-time winner who has become as synonymous with the Masters as the green jacket itself. He was even honored with a monument in 1998, the 40th anniversary of his first appearance.
Oddly, it was at that ceremony when Nicklaus first wore an Augusta National green jacket he could finally call his own.
"Everybody talks about the green jacket," Nicklaus said. "I never owned one until 1998."
Nicklaus says he has told the story many times. He wasn't about to repeat it until he saw the attentive faces of a small group of reporters huddled around him on the patio of his south Florida home this week.
What followed was one of the most fascinating stories to come forth regarding the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
Nicklaus was a chubby 23-year-old when he won his first Masters in 1963. Augusta tradition allows for the previous year's winner -- Arnold Palmer, in this case -- to drape the green jacket on the shoulders of the new champion.
Club officials keep several jackets handy for the presentation, and they brought out a size 46 long for Nicklaus.
"They thought I was so big," Nicklaus said. "It was like an overcoat. It just hung on me."
The jacket was only for show. Defending champions have their own coat waiting for them upon their return. For whatever reason, a green jacket with a "Nicklaus" name tag stitched inside wasn't in his locker in 1964.
Not to worry. Nicklaus borrowed one from Augusta member Thomas Dewey, the former New York governor of the famous headline, "Dewey defeats Truman."
Nicklaus won again in 1965 and 1966. Still no jacket. He continued to wear Dewey's coat for the Champions Dinner on Wednesday before the tournament, not wanting to make a fuss.
"They never said anything," Nicklaus said. "And I wasn't going to say anything."
Dewey's jacket finally wore out about the time Nicklaus won his record-tying fourth Masters in 1972. This time, he took matters into his own hands. Since Nicklaus had an endorsement deal with Hart, Schaffner and Marx, he asked the Cincinnati-based clothier to make him a green jacket.
"It wasn't even the same material or the right color," he said.
No one noticed.
That jacket lasted a short time past his fifth victory in 1975, and Nicklaus was back to borrowing a green jacket every year from Augusta National members -- and not letting on about the oversight.
Eleven years later, the 46-year-old Nicklaus won the Masters again, but still had not one green jacket to show for any of his six titles.
Nicklaus enjoyed the story and shared it among friends. But he never told anyone from Augusta National until 1997 when he dropped it on then-chairman Jackson Stephens, a pokerfaced oilman from Arkansas rarely ruffled by anything.
"I told him, 'I've won this tournament six times and I've never been given a green jacket,' " Nicklaus said. "I don't own a green jacket."
Ridiculous, replied Stephens, who ordered him to the pro shop to be measured for a green jacket immediately.
"I said, 'Jack, it's such a great story, I don't want to ruin it,' " Nicklaus recalled with a chuckle.
Alas, not even the great Nicklaus has the final word at Augusta. When he returned in 1998, he found a note in his locker from Stephens, who had scheduled an appointment with the tailor for Nicklaus. Nicklaus gave in and was measured for a 44 regular -- his first green jacket, 35 years late.
It will hang from his locker in the Champions Room when Nicklaus returns in April. Perhaps he can pull off another miracle and win his seventh Masters, in which case Jose Maria Olazabal would help him put on the green jacket.
His own green jacket.
Are you saying Mickelson lied about the phone call?
Nope. That is Klintonian.
Never has been such for the President to do such. Get a grip.
Savage is a loon.