Thu Nov 10 09:25am EST
Phil Mickelson, one of the winningest and best-known golfers in history, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May 2012.
Mickelson was elected to the Hall with 72 percent of the vote, the highest percentage since Greg Norman with 80 percent a decade ago. Since arriving on the professional scene two decades ago, Mickelson has been one of golf's most visible (and, to some, polarizing) figures. He's won four majors, three Masters and one PGA Championship, and he's played on 17 Ryder and Presidents Cup teams, including the one kicking off next week. He reached a career-high World Golf Ranking of No. 2.
Mickelson is the only member of the PGA Tour to be inducted; the inductees from International and Lifetime Achievement categories will be announced at a later date. The next-closest nominees were Fred Couples with 38 percent of the vote, and Davis Love III and Mark O'Meara with 29 percent apiece.
For some, Mickelson's career will be defined by what could have been, as will all players who played in the shadow of Tiger Woods. Still, Mickelson has managed to win one major and several tournaments since Woods' troubles began two years ago, and Mickelson remains one of golf's most compelling draws. His reputation for fan friendliness is unmatched; he regularly hangs out signing hundreds of autographs after rounds, long after his playing partners have disappeared into the clubhouse.
"On behalf of the PGA Tour, I congratulate Phil Mickelson on being bestowed with one of the highest honors in our sport -- induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame," tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "It seems Phil has been destined for this honor for some time. From his days as one of world's premier amateur players to his seamless transition to professional star, Phil has always performed at the highest levels of the sport and this recognition is well deserved."
It's a peculiar element of golf that players can be inducted into the Hall of Fame when they're still playing at the highest level; Mickelson met the first qualification for induction in 2003 when he played his 10th year on tour, and met the final qualification last year when he turned 40.
Congratulations to Mickelson on an honor well-deserved. It'll be interesting to watch how his career tracks even after achieving golf's highest honor.