Would you give up a potential $2 million payday to see your daughter graduate from high school?
Professional golfer Phil Mickelson is doing just that.
Because the opening round of the U.S. Open falls on the same day as his oldest daughter’s high school graduation, Phil has announced plans to withdraw from this year’s event.
It’s not the first time Mickelson has chosen family over work.
Back in 1999, Mickelson was competing at the U.S. Open in North Carolina just as his wife, Amy, stayed in their home back in Arizona. She was pregnant at the time – and the baby was due any day.
Mickelson went ahead and competed – but his caddie had a beeper in his pocket. And if Amy alerted him she had gone into labor, Phil would leave North Carolina and head home, even if he was leading the tournament.
Turns out Mickelson didn’t have to leave the U.S. Open that year, because his daughter, Amanda – the same daughter who is graduating this month, was born the day after the U.S Open finished.
Mickelson’s act of devoted love might even be at the expense of his lifelong dream. That’s because the U.S. Open is the only major tournament that the father of three hasn’t won. He’s come in second place six times.
“Phil desperately, desperately wants to win the U.S. Open,” said his wife, Amy, during an interview.
Yet the window of opportunity for Mickelson to win a career Grand Slam is closing. Mickelson is getting older – he’ll be turning 47 on the day of his daughter’s graduation – and the oldest golfer to have won the U.S. Open was 45.
But while Mickelson is convinced he would have a good shot at winning this year’s Open, he’s keeping his family his top priority.
“It really wasn’t much of a decision,” Mickelson explained. “As you look back on life, there are certain things you need to be there for.”
There’s little doubt Amanda is a healthier, better adjusted person for her father’s sense of commitment and sacrifice.
I’ve long talked about the importance of fathers on this blog, on the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, and in my book, “The Good Dad.”
Research continues to bear out this truth.
Just this week the Wall St. Journal reported on a study that used an ingenious research design to help prove that insufficient fathering predisposes girls to risky sexual behavior, defined as promiscuity, unprotected sex and sex while intoxicated.
The findings were definitive, explains Dr. Danielle DelPriore, one of the researchers.
“The prolonged presence of a warm and engaged father can buffer girls against early, high-risk sex,” she said. “It’s all about dosage of exposure to dads; the bigger the dose, the more fathering matters—for better and for worse.”
It’s just one way involved fathers can make a very real, very positive difference in their children’s lives.
I’ll be rooting for Phil Mickelson as he continues to compete in future tournaments and hope he gets his U.S. Open championship next year at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island.
But if you ask me, he’s already won the best prize.
I’d like to hear from you. Was your dad an engaged and involved father? Did he ever sacrifice a career accomplishment or personal dream for his children? How did his involvement – or absence – shape you? How does this impact the way you parent or plan to parent? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, below.
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