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Mickelson deserves every honor

Phil Mickelson didn't need to be elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame for his place in the game's history to be secure, but the news today that he'll be inducted next May made it official.

As a matter of full disclosure, I voted for Mickelson this year, the first time he was on the ballot. We can quibble about whether guys still in the prime of their careers should be put into a Hall of Fame - I personally think 50 should be the starting point for eligibility - but, regardless, Mickelson was automatic.

Somehow, his wife Amy and caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay belong in there, too, and I'm sure Phil will include them in his induction speech.

Mickelson is the best kind of professional golfer, all at once mesmerizing, thrilling, charismatic, worrisome and unique. He's got a touch of Arnold Palmer about him and, next to his short game, his greatest strength may be his smile.

It goes a long way in explaining his rock star status. Fans adore Mickelson. They respected Tiger but they've loved Phil.

I've been fortunate to watch Mickelson from close range through the years and following him through galleries between greens and tees, especially when he's been in contention in major championships, makes you wonder if that's how Elvis must've felt at times.

There was a time when we wondered if Mickelson could win a major championship. His "damn the torpedoes" style was great for television but not necessarily great for avoiding trouble. It's easy to count off the moments when he flamed out but it's easier to look at his collection of green jackets and trophies and appreciate that we've been watching one of the all-time greats for the past two decades.

Another generation had Nicklaus and Palmer. We've had Mickelson and Woods. Pretty good stuff.

It was trendy to be cynical about Mickelson earlier in his career. His smile came too easily. He said all the right things.

That cynicism, like questions about his ability to win majors, disappeared long ago. People shared his disappointment after the debacle at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. They felt his pain when Amy and his mother were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mickleson has been different in so many good ways. As David Feherty has said, there's a mad scientist quality to Mickelson that makes him all the more intriguing.

Golfers like Mickelson don't come along often, nor do people like him. It's our good fortune he came along when he did.