Mickelson Off to Work, Then Shows His Priorities

The cloud cover in surburban Boston hadn't burned off and Phil Mickelson was off to work. The PGA Tour rolled into town for Labor Day Weekend and Mickelson was anxious to tee-it-up after a stop home and a few practice rounds on the grounds of his California dreamin' backyard.

Mickelson wasted no time, burning up his assigned slot on the back nine at the TPC Boston to the tune of a "28" going out. He finished his round, shooting an eight-under "63" and was the co-leader along with England's Brian Davis, each slightly ahead of 22 golfers all within three strokes of the top line on the Deutsche Bank Championship leaderboard.

Tearing it up on the back nine is something every weekend duffer in the world wishes he could relate to the golf game of Mickelson. If it's been said once, it's been said a million times on courses around the world. "Just once, I wish I could hit it like Lefty." Or, "if I could play like Phil Mickelson -- just one round -- I'd be the happiest golfer on the planet."

Reality sets in, however, when you look at the leaderboard at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second rung on the ladder for the complicated PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoff system, you'll see the fact Mickelson birdied seven of his first nine holes and made the turn with a 28 on his scorecard on the way to carding a tournament-leading 63 on the par-71 TPC Boston. The fact of the matter is many a weekend warrior has looked down to his scorecard after only four holes to see the same number on his card and felt the agony of defeat in the mind games of golf.

Yet, while we are not all golfers, every father in the world found a way to relate to Mickelson today. After the 2013 British Open champion answered all the golf-related questions, telling the assembled media what clubs he had in his bag and how he actually did think of the illustrious "59" after his amazing first nine holes today, Mickelson was asked about whether he had time to get home this week to take his daughter, Amanda, to her first day of high school. At that moment, the golfer became a father who let his guard down as the visions of his baby girl danced in his mind's eye. His eyes seemed to mist over as they do for all Dad's when we're asked about the fact our "little girls" have grown-up to be young women.

"I was able to take her (to school)," said Mickelson. "It's a big change to see how quickly it's gone and for her to be starting high school and in four years, off to college. I was glad to that I was able to be home for that."

With that short description of everyday life as the shadows get longer, and late August turns into September on the calendar and so many mothers and fathers across the United States grab the camera and take that patented still photo on the front steps in front of the front door, Phil Mickelson the golfer reminded everyone, his first priority in life is his family.

Sometimes in the big-time world of bigger-time sports, we all tend to forget the fact we're watching everyday people do extraordinary things right after they've done the everyday things themselves. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is married to a supermodel and his athleticism allows him to throw touchdown passes in the same manner many of us flip pancakes, three or four every Sunday, but the truth of the matter is that there are three kids -- John, Benjamin and Vivian -- who think of Brady in only one way -- as their Dad.

Similarly, back in Racho Sante Fe, California, Amanda, Sophia and Evan might watch their Dad play a little golf this weekend but when it all comes down to the everyday life we all treasure, they'll be happy that their father, Phil, is home for dinner on Tuesday night.