Thursday, February 25

Mutual Admiration: Phil Mickelson and Harper Lee

WHAT DO A HALL-OF-FAME GOLFER and a literary icon have in common?

Karen Crouse tells us in her New York Times story, "Phil Mickelson Never Met Harper Lee, but the Admiration Was Mutual."

Lee's father, a lawyer, introduced her to golf. "Playing golf is the best way I know to be alone and still be doing something," said the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird more than a half century ago. "You hit a ball, think and take a walk."

Mickelson, who read To Kill a Mockingbird as a student, hoped to meet the famous author after he learned the Lees rooted for him in the 2004 Masters, which he won. But the meeting never took place.

It was nearly impossible for anyone to get an audience with Harper Lee.

An excerpt from Crouse's article:
[Mickelson] was thrilled to find out his fans included the woman who breathed life into the character of Atticus Finch, modeled after Lee's father. 
What if they could meet? [Crouse] placed a phone call to the Rev. Thomas Lane Butts, a Methodist minister in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Ala. Butts served as one of the conduits to Lee, who was in an assisted-living center in the town. 
"The good Lord himself couldn't get to her," Butts said of the octogenarian Lee, who largely eschewed cellphones, social media and uninvited social calls at the assisted living facility where she lived.
He suggested that Mickelson write Lee a letter of introduction, which he said he would deliver.
An orchestrated plan ran into roadblocks, so Phil, like the rest of us, will only know and remember Lee through her landmark characters and story.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

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