Phil scraps Masters menu
Augusta - Phil Mickelson scrapped plans to provide Masters champions with Spanish cuisine to honour Seve Ballesteros after learning the former winner was unable to attend this year's tournament.
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Spaniard Ballesteros, a double Masters champion, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008 and has been advised by his doctors not to travel overseas for the year's first major.
The 53-year-old with 91 wins as a professional has had four operations since the diagnosis.
Mickelson said on Tuesday he would instead serve up a meaty menu when he hosts the traditional champions dinner at Augusta National Golf Club on the Tuesday of Masters week.
"I wanted to kind of honour him (Ballesteros)," Masters champion Mickelson explained on a conference call.
"I just sent him an e-mail saying that if he were able to come, and felt healthy enough to be able to make this tournament, I would love to have the dinner be something that he would like ... a Spanish dish of paella or whatever he thought would be appropriate.
"But unfortunately I don't think he's going to be able to make it ... So our thoughts and prayers are going to be with him that evening."
Mickelson has long admired the swashbuckling style of Ballesteros, a five-times major winner renowned for his short-game genius and uncanny ability to salvage pars from unlikely situations.
Aged only 10, Mickelson was inspired by the Spaniard's first Masters victory in 1980 and recalled telling his mother: "I want to win that tournament. I want to be like that and win this event."
Mickelson has gone on to win the prized green jacket three times at Augusta National.
"The feeling I get coming back to Augusta National is such an incredible feeling, knowing I've won the golf tournament and that I've had such success there and that I'm part of the history of the Masters," the 40-year-old American added.
"There's no better feeling for a golfer than to feel that."
As reigning Masters champion, Mickelson gets to choose the menu for the exclusive green jacket-only affair which brings together past winners at Augusta National.
"I learned one thing over the years - many of the past champions, they love beef and they love meat," the world number four said.
"And because of that, I want to honour the past champions at Augusta. I plan on having a trio of different meats, whether it be bison or venison or just fillet."
Mickelson said he would also dish up plenty of green vegetables.
The Masters tradition dates back to 1952 when Ben Hogan hosted the first champions dinner. Since then, some of the dining experiences have been more memorable than others.
After winning the 1988 Masters, Britain's Sandy Lyle served up haggis the following year while Fiji's 2000 champion Vijay Singh dished up one of the most popular meals with a Thai menu.
Britain's three-time champion Nick Faldo offered up shepherd's pie, Germany's Bernhard Langer had schnitzel and Canada's Mike Weir selected caribou.
For the less adventurous, past champions can also order off the Augusta National Golf Club's menu.