(Editor’s note: Written by Golf Channel’s Dave Taylor, Studio Productions Coordinating Producer)
Fast-forward four years to 2016 and the contrasts between Tiger Woods induction into theWorld Golf Hall of Fame and Phil Mickelson’s ceremony this year.
Mickelson’s induction speech was a celebration of long-time family and friends like manager Steve Loy and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both have been with Mickelson from the start of his career and they weathered all the ups and the downs together. You could see the emotional connection between them and Mickelson, with Loy’s voice-cracking introduction and Mackay’s glistening eyes watching. Mickelson used the word “love” about both.
Who will introduce Woods? Assuming it’s his longtime agent Mark Steinberg, how much raw emotion will be evident?
Mickelson mentioned Rick Smith and Dave Pelz who helped him with his game before he moved on to Butch Harmon. Will Woods thank Harmon and Hank Haney for helping him get to 14 majors? What are the chances that he mentions former caddies Fluff Cowan or Stevie Williams in his induction speech?
The journey for Mickelson through his 41 career victories and four majors elicited humorous anecdotes about his children Amanda (born after he lost the ‘99 U.S. Open to Payne Stewart), Sophia (with binky in mouth after his ‘04 Masters win) and Evan (high fives with New Jersey State Troopers after his ‘05 PGA victory). Will Tiger’s recollection of his major wins be intertwined with stories about son Charlie and daughter Sam?
Mickeslon spoke lovingly about how he met wife Amy and how the PGA Tour family and friends helped him deal with the emotions of having her diagnosed with cancer. He’s had a loving, visible partner through his journey. What can Woods say about the mother of his two children who was there for most of his wins and majors?
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem spoke at Mickelson’s Hall of Fame induction, thanking him for being a role model, contributing to charitable causes, helping young players, capturing the enthusiasm of the fans and for enhancing the image of the Tour.
Finchem should speak at Tiger’s induction ceremony without a doubt. No one player since Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus has done more for TV ratings and interest in the game. Every PGA Tour player who competed during the Tiger Era should show up to express gratitude for increased purses and opportunities.
But the tone and mood of Woods’ induction will be much different if it comes four years from now. Finchem won’t be able to say all the same things about Tiger that he said of Phil. He will have to choose his words carefully with his accolades of one of the games greatest.
You have to wonder if Woods will be on that St. Augustine stage four years from now. When asked about his feeling of being inducted while still playing Tiger said, “I don’t want to be on that ballot at that age. I still have work to do. I still want to play and compete…it should be later, not at 40.”
The longer Tiger can delay that special day, the better for him and the World Golf Hall of Fame. His image needs more time, more reps, more wins and more majors before being immortalized. He needs the best shine possible on that prized bronzed monument.