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Mickelson changes his mind, accepts exemption to US Open

Phil Mickelson is assured a minimum of another crack on the main that has given him probably the most heartache. He accepted a particular exemption Friday to play the U.S. Open.

Mickelson turns into the primary participant since Vijay Singh in 2010 to obtain an exemption with out having gained the U.S. Open, and he isn’t with out advantage. He has gained 5 majors — all of them besides the U.S. Open — to associate with his 44 victories on the PGA Tour.

He has been eligible for each U.S. Open courting to 1994, however the 50-year-old Mickelson has fallen out of the highest 100 on this planet rating. He had mentioned in February 2020, a month earlier than golf shut down due to the pandemic, that he wouldn’t settle for an exemption even when the USGA supplied him one.

He was ready to undergo 36-hole qualifying on June 7, every week earlier than the U.S. Open returns to Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.

“Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” Mickelson mentioned. “You can’t win if you don’t play. I’m honored and appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity and look forward to playing in my hometown on a golf course I grew up on.”

No one has suffered more in the U.S. Open than Mickelson, who needs only that major to complete the career Grand Slam. He holds the U.S. Open record with six runner-up finishes, and two moments stand out.

In 2006 at Winged Foot, he took a one-shot lead to the final hole when he missed the fairway well to the left and then curiously tried to hit 3-iron around a tree blocking his path to the green. It hit the tree, his third shot plugged in a bunker and he failed to get up-and-down, making double bogey to finish one shot behind.

And then at Merion in 2013, he had the 54-hole lead for the first time and was still leading when he hit wedge over the par-3 13th green and made bogey on the easiest hole. He made another bogey with a wedge in his hand from 121 yards away on No. 15 and closed with a third bogey to finish two shots behind.

He also was runner-up at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999 when Payne Stewart made a 15-foot par putt on the last hole, twice at Bethpage Black (2002 to Tiger Woods, 2009 to Lucas Glover) and Shinnecock Hills in 2004 to Retief Goosen when Mickelson made double bogey on the 17th hole.

“Phil Mickelson’s incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game’s history,” said Mike Davis, outgoing CEO of the USGA. “We are thrilled to welcome him to this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.”

Mickelson grew up playing the public course along the Pacific bluffs, and he is a three-time winner of the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines. The last one was 20 years ago, and he has been critical of the redesign by Rees Jones to get the South Course ready for the 2008 U.S. Open.

He has not finished in the top 10 at the tour event at Torrey since a runner-up finish 10 years ago.

Mickelson tied for 18th in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, five shots out of the playoff won by Tiger Woods. Lefty curiously chose not to carry a driver that week on a course measuring 7,643 yards at sea level.

Mickelson failed to qualify for the U.S. Open in 1993, when he lost in a playoff for the final spot to a player who made a 50-foot putt on him. He didn’t play at Erin Hills in 2017 because his oldest daughter was graduating from high school that week.

He was prepared to go through qualifying again, and was adamant about it at Pebble Beach in February 2020 when he said, “I’m both going to get within the discipline by myself or I’ll have to attempt to qualify. I’m not going to take a particular exemption.”

He made it to Winged Foot for the U.S. Open final September when the USGA had to remove qualifying due to the pandemic and expanded the world rating exemption from the highest 60 to the highest 70. Mickelson was No. 66 on the time.

Mickelson has not all the time had one of the best relationship with the USGA, usually criticizing the best way the course is ready up. He made his strongest level in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills, the place a number of pin positions had been so tough on baked-out greens that gamers had hassle conserving putts from going off the placing floor.

On the thirteenth gap within the third spherical, Mickelson’s putt glided by the opening and he ran over and swatted it again towards the cup because the ball was nonetheless shifting, an egregious violation. He was given a two-shot penalty and made a ten on the opening.

He mentioned final yr his determination not to settle for an exemption had nothing to do with his emotions towards the USGA. It was extra about advantage.

“If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t,” he mentioned on the time. “I don’t desire a sympathy spot. If I’m adequate to make it and qualify, then I want to earn my spot there.”

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