CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Phil Mickelson has won four major championships and let just as many get away.
In contention at the Masters, he boldly played a 6-iron through a tiny gap in the pines trees that barely cleared Rae’s Creek and settled some 4 feet away. In contention at Augusta National this year, Lefty played consecutive shots right-handed on his way to a triple bogey.
He won Colonial by hitting a shot through the trees and over the water. He lost a chance to win Bay Hill by trying to hit 4-iron under the trees and over the water.
He played a Masters with two drivers in his bag and a U.S. Open with no driver.
Mickelson will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday evening along with four others, taking an undisputed place among the best who ever played this game.
His 42 wins worldwide include three Masters, a PGA Championship and two World Golf Championships. Beyond his trophies, Mickelson is wildly popular with the fans for the way he engages them on the golf course and spends hours signing autographs. For every story about his generosity, there probably are dozens more that never get told.
The definition of Mickelson as a golfing great, however, can be a little trickier.
Geoff Ogilvy, who won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot after Mickelson took double bogey on the final hole, was asked the first thing he would say about Mickelson’s legacy. Not surprisingly, he had to think about it.
“There’s only one Phil, isn’t there?” Ogilvy concluded. “He’s astonishingly talented. Incredibly talented. And very human. There have been a lot of superstars with kind of this never-do-anything-wrong persona. He’s had as much written about stuff he wasn’t happy with than the good stuff. Most superstars have three little blips and 50 great things. He’s had 50 great things and 50 things where people are scratching their heads.”
That’s the way “Phil the Thrill” likes to play.
Two years before Mickelson finally won his first major at the Masters, he defended his approach of taking on any shot without fear, each one a calculated risk. He said he would never change, even if he never won a major, because “that’s how I play my best golf.”
He elaborated more on that at the Wells Fargo Championship, just days before his induction.
“You’ve got to play without fear,” he said. “You’re going to make mistakes. It’s going to happen. You have to deal with losing. It’s part of the tour. Out of 156 guys each week, one person is going to win, so 155 lose. But you can’t worry about that. You’ve got to let it brush off when things don’t go your way. But rather than play tentatively or with concern or fear, or let someone else hand it to you, I’ve always liked to try to get the tournament in my control.
“I think it’s more than desire of trying to control my own destiny than let somebody else handle it, which has forced me to play aggressive.”
Also to be inducted at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., are two-time major champion Sandy Lyle, three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Hollis Stacy, writer Dan Jenkins and British broadcaster Peter Alliss.