PHIL MICKELSON’S obvious love of golf was rewarded this week with his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The 41 year old American was acknowledged for an ongoing career that so far includes 42 wins, four majors, two World Golf Championships, eight Ryder Cup teams and every Presidents Cup team since it began in 1994.
Also inducted on Monday night were Scotland’s two-time major champion Sandy Lyle, golf writer Dan Jenkins, British player-turned-broadcaster Peter Alliss, and four-time LPGA major champion Hollis Stacy.
That brought membership in the Hall of Fame to 141, nearly half of them since it moved to the World Golf Village in 1998. It was the second straight year following on from Ernie Els in 2011 that a current player still ranked in the top 20 was inducted.
Tongue-in-cheek, Mickelson thanked his large fan base.
“There have been a lot of times where I’ve struggled, and it’s been their energy that’s helped pull me through,” he said. “I’ve tried to reciprocate by launching drive after drive in their general direction.”
Mickelson fronted up the next day for the 2012 Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass, where he is one of the favourites, and spoke of his love for the game.
“It’s everything about the game,” Mickelson said when asked what he particularly liked about golf. “Whether it’s just the challenge of making contact and hitting the ball or the challenge of being creative and hitting shots around the greens.”
The affection goes back a long way.
“I loved going out there on a rainy day practicing under the palm tree when nobody was around hitting balls out onto the par-three course where I grew up,” he said.
“I love going down to the club and just hanging out, hanging out and spending time with the guys before and after a round. I just love everything about the game.
“It’s been such a big part of my life, that I’m very appreciative that I get to do what I do. I’d like to see other people enjoy it the way I do.”