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Mickelson, Daly make emotional PGA returns

Phil Mickelson choked back the tears Wednesday as he spoke about returning to the PGA Tour three weeks after his wife Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I've never felt this emotional, where if I'm driving alone or what have you I will just start crying," Mickelson said. "It's kind of a weird thing.

"I'm looking forward to having a four- or five-hour mental break to focus on something else." Mickelson, a three-time major champion, walked away indefinitely from the PGA Tour when learning of his wife's condition, but will play this week and in next week's US Open before taking another leave of absence to be with his wife.

Also coming back at this week's St. Jude Classic is fellow US star John Daly, back after a suspension. He played in Europe, Asia and Australia and dropped weight to make a comeback after a career dogged by personal struggles.

"You think you're going to be out here for life. I took that for granted. I didn't take all the golf tournaments as serious as I should have," Daly said. "But the good news is I can still salvage a great career." Mickelson practiced Tuesday at Bethpage Black, where the US Open tees off next week. The left-hander who turns 39 next week was runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 2002 US Open staged at Bethpage and the clear favorite of spectators.

"I'm not playing just to play," Mickelson said. "Bethpage is a golf course that suits my game. I love that course. Obviously, I'm playing because I believe I can win. That's the goal." Mickelson said the cancer was discovered early so his wife will not need immediate surgery but might have an operation the first week in July, after which he might have a better handle on where or when he might play again.

"I don't know when I will be able to play again," Mickelson said. "I don't think it's going to be for a while but I don't know what we're facing yet.

"We're scared. I think a lot of it is the unknown." At least a year of treatments are likely for Amy, who will join Phil on a tropical holiday after the US Open.

"Throughout this year, we'll have a lot of treatments. We will try to do normal things, like playing golf tournaments." Mickelson does not expect his wife to attend the US Open.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, Thursday, AFP


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