One Magical Sunday by Phil Mickelson

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One Magical Sunday by Phil Mickelson

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Category: Sport
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A skilled recounting of the tense final round in the 2004 Masters at Augusta is interspersed with stories of Mickelson's life. They're interesting if too saccharine sweet for my taste.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: June 2005
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
ISBN: 0446578576

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Most golfers - certainly most of the top professionals - are right-handed. At one time it was said that no left-handed golfer would ever win one of the Majors - the four most important tournaments played annually in the USA and the UK. Thankfully that's now changed, with Mike Weir and Phil Mickelson having both won The Masters at Augusta National. I've a soft spot for Phil Mickelson: like my husband he's normally right-handed, but plays golf left-handed.

By April 2004 Phil Mickelson had never won a Major. Many golfers (Colin Montgomerie, for instance) feel the pressure of having this fact clinging to them and it's always a relief to get rid of it. "One Magical Sunday" is the story of the final round at Augusta National which saw Phil Mickelson win The Masters and never again have to think that he'd not yet won a major.

The format is simple. There are nineteen chapters - one for each hole and the customary watering hole. At the beginning of each chapter there's a simple picture of the hole, showing the tee, fairways, bunkers, trees, any water hazards and the green with the pin position. The shots are then described along with the choice of club and the reason why the shot was played that way. If you're not a golfer this might sound rather boring, but I found it fascinating. All the background is there - the practice that needs to be done, the information that's needed to ensure the right choice of club and even the choice of clothing are all important.

Imagine though that as you walk down the fairway Phil tells you about his life. They're really just snippets as the book is only 200 pages and about half of that is a round of golf. He seems to have had an idyllic childhood, dominated by his longing to play golf, got his degree, met the woman of his dreams, married her and produced three children. They're the most important things in his life; hence the sub-title of the book But Winning Isn't Everything. I've just read Colin Montgomerie's autobiography The Real Monty and the contrast could not be starker. He and his wife also had two girls and then a boy, but Montgomerie's priorities were on the golf course not at home and his marriage has ended in divorce.

The snippets about Mickelson's childhood are a little too saccharine-sweet for me and littered with home-grown philosophy, but the picture of a man whose priority is his family and who works hard at his golf is probably an honest one. There are quotes from his parents, wife, caddie and even the children, but nothing which is in any way critical, making the book unbalanced. It's one to read for the feel-good factor rather than in-depth analysis.

The book has been ghost-written by Donald T Phillips. His knowledge and love of the game shine through and make for very easy reading. It's the sort of book that you can read in one sitting. The 'round' is narrated in the present tense, frequently the graveyard of good writing, but it works well here. I was surprised by the build up of tension as the round drew to a close. Mickelson didn't win until his final putt on the eighteenth green. I knew the result but still had a feeling of excitement about the outcome. Early on in the book I was annoyed at the "leader board" at the end of each chapter, but seeing the scores change did add to the tension.

The photographs are all in colour and are well-reproduced. Too many of them are posed and rather twee, I'm afraid. The picture of Mickelson and his wife (sorry - "life partner") clutching a bunch of roses whilst she sits rather perilously on some railings might look good in the drawing room, but added little to a golf book.

It's not a book I'd recommend buying, but if you have the chance to borrow it then it could provide an evening's entertainment. I doubt you'll reread it though.

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