The Woods-Mickelson rivalry, though one-sided in wins and majors and awards, is the most celebrated in golf since the days of Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Mickelson has been linked to Palmer so much more beyond the golf, however.
Mickelson spends an hour after most rounds, signing his name on flags and programs, making sure it is legible. When there are times he wants a day off from signing autographs, he handles that privately so as not to disappoint.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem often says the image of his players is the greatest asset, and the topic came up last November in Singapore when Mickelson's election to the Hall of Fame was announced.
"He is exactly what you like to see in a player," Finchem said. "If everybody conducted themselves like Phil week and week out, we'd be stronger yet."
Mickelson said he is honored by his induction, though he is not overly excited. It feels awkward to go into the Hall of Fame at age 41 when he is still among the favorite to win more tournaments, more majors. He already has won this year at Pebble Beach for his 40th career tour victory, with a goal of reaching 50.
He said his speech likely would focus on what golf has allowed him to do, and he wasn't just talking about winning. It's the places he has been, the people he has met. But as he thought back on 20 years, he recognized the very thing that has made him so much fun to watch.
"The ups and downs, highs and lows, talking about it," he said. "Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's not. All those great experiences that have taken place in the last 20 years, it's really been fun. And I'm appreciative of the fact I've been able to play golf for a living."
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