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A healthier Amy follows Phil again

Sunday, April 10, 2011

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After his birdie putt on No. 15 found the bottom of the cup, Sophia Mickelson and Jennifer Mackay started their birdie dance.

Amy Mickelson and her daughter Sophia, 9, walk in the crosswalk at No. 14 as they follow Phil Mickelson's third round Saturday at the Masters. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

"Flap, flap, flap. One, two, three," went Phil Mickelson's 9-year-old daughter and his caddie's wife in sync.

There simply weren't enough birdie dances in a day to vault Mickelson back into the thick of his Masters Tournament defense, but just the presence of his family walking among the pines was welcome.

Sophia was making her first 18-hole trip around Augusta National Golf Club, while her mother, Amy has walked these hills more than 60 times following her husband through the years.

This week, however, has marked the first time since the final round of 2009 that Amy has followed Phil around their favorite golf course.

"It's nice to be back out here instead of in the house," said Amy, whose breast cancer treatments kept her from walking as Mickelson won his third green jacket last year.

With her health under control, Augusta marks the second time this season that Amy walked during a tournament. She followed Mickelson most of the way around Torrey Pines in January as he finished second in his hometown tour event.

Jen Mackay, wife of Phil Mickelson's caddie Jim Mackay, his daughter Sophia Mickelson, 9, and his wife Amy Mickelson walk along the fourteen fairway. (Corey Perrine/Staff)

Back at Augusta, she is greeted on every hole by friends and well-wishers glad to see her out in public again. She greets every one of them with a smile, hug or conversation.

"Mom, you have too many friends," Sophia said.

"You can't have too many friends," Amy responded.

As Mickelson walked from the tee box on the 17th hole, he spotted his wife and daughter along the ropes, and the crowd started applauding them all.

From 50 yards away, Mickelson and Sophia gestured to each other in the universal two-fingers-to-the-eyes "I'm watching you" signs.

"It's great to have Amy back, and we were talking about it yesterday that this was really a big step for us because as we look back day today you don't notice the progress that you make," Mickelson said. "And here we are a year and a half, almost two years in, and we're getting back to doing the things we normally do, which is really a good sign. So it's, it was a nice stepping stone for us."

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.

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