Phil Mickelson takes another dart at Major glory when he looks to complete the career slam by winning the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
Mickelson’s history with the US Open is as famed as any player in any event. That history is entwined with Shinnecock Hills, as the venue makes its return to the roster for the first time since 2004 when the veteran got within inches before a late double scuppered his plans.
His pain was joy for Retief Goosen, not invited this week after missing out on qualifying, who one-putted 11 greens to claim the win.
Only Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and long-time rival Tiger Woods have managed to complete the career slam.
‘The turning point was my double on 17th because I had just birdied three of the last four holes to get myself in position to win the tournament. But the double I made on 17th was the biggest factor. I mean, unfortunately, it was a bad time,’ he said on Monday.
Mickelson also has a T4 at Shinnecock Hills, although that was back in 1994, but insists that thoughts of winning – on what he has described as his ‘favourite’ US Open venue where the set-up ‘excites’ him – are out of his mind.
‘The last thing I’m thinking about right now is trying to win,’ he said.
‘I’m trying to get myself in position for the weekend because, when you try to go out and win a US Open, you will lose it quick.
‘So I’m trying to just position myself these first couple of days, get through the first challenge of Thursday, Friday, and have a chance on the weekend because a lot happens on the weekend, especially after the cut when you start eliminating players.’
If not this year, then the roster has been kind to Mickelson as the US Open heads to Pebble Beach and Winged Foot – courses where he has a rich history. Not that the much-loved American wants to delay the joy any longer.
‘Yeah, these three provide me a great opportunity to finish out this final leg. Certainly, with the way I’ve been playing this year and at the consistency level, as well as at a much higher level than I’ve played the last few years, gives me a great opportunity.’
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth join Mickelson on Thursday at 2:02pm for their first round.