Publish date:

What Phil Knows

One of Phil Mickelson's good friends at Arizona State was Missy Farr, whose sister, Heather (below), was then a rising star on the LPGA. That relationship will help now that Phil's wife, Amy, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. When Heather fell ill at 23, she was thought to be too young to have breast cancer, and so her condition was misdiagnosed for months. The cancer spread, and after at least 15 surgeries over 4½ years, she lost her battle. But the Farr family wasn't done. At 30, Missy, too, found out that she had breast cancer. Doctors have told the Farrs that the lessons learned from Heather's treatment have helped save many lives, including Missy's; on two occasions Missy opted for radical and aggressive treatments. After her first mastectomy, Phil and a few other college friends visited her. Some didn't know how to handle the situation, but Phil wanted to know all the details—everything he could possibly learn. I imagine the information he soaked up then will be a great resource for him and Amy now. Phil also designated his 1994 Presidents Cup charity allotment to buy the life-sized statue of Heather that stands near the 10th tee at Arizona State's home course. It's a tribute to a woman who helped the world realize that breast cancer respects no age and that there's no substitute for early detection. Heather Farr had (and Missy has) an outlook similar to Amy's—cheerful, outgoing and upbeat. We all hope that such an attitude and the lessons learned from Heather's fight will save Amy and many others.

Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and an on-course analyst for NBC and Golf Channel.