Phil Mickelson has been called a phony. He was the subject of an infamous anecdote, in which a golf writer overheard a player in a clubhouse, watching Mickelson prepare for a key shot in a tournament, yell at the TV for him to hit the ball in the water, not in such kind terms.

Some people see his salesman's smile and hide their wallets.

Here's the counterpoint to all of that: Mickelson has had one caddy his entire career, and not only has not never blamed his caddy for a loss, his caddy has become part of his family.

Mickelson has been so driven to win majors late in his career that he has enlisted short-game guru Dave Pelz and swing coach Butch Harmon, the man who helped launch Tiger Woods' career.

He has played on despite a particularly painful form of arthritis.

Of the game's great players, he spends more time signing autographs and slapping hands than anyone.

He's candid and entertaining in interviews.

He's the kind of guy who could cheer the great shots of Ian Poulter when the two played on Sunday at the Ryder Cup last year.

He has the guts to bounce back from what he called the most devastating loss of his life, at the U.S. Open at Merion, to win the British Open on the kind of course that used to flummox him. He committed to traveling to Scotland to play in the Scottish Open the week before the British, so he would be prepared to win.

If he's a phony, we need more of them in professional sports.


I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon today.


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