By Tom LaMarre
Phil Mickelson admits he has sometimes gotten in his own way while finishing second six times in the U.S. Open, the only major championship he has failed to win.
As Lefty prepares for the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club this week in Southampton, N.Y., on he’s asking the United State Golf Association to get out of the way.
“They keep changing (Shinnecock) up,” said Mickelson, who finished two strokes behind Retief Goosen of South Africa on the course in 2004, one those six runner-up finishes. I heard they widened the fairways, tightened the fairways. … I’ll let it kind of settle in and I’ll go in a few weeks beforehand.
“I have pretty extensive notes on the greens from years past, but it’s going to be a very interesting week because historically the USGA hasn’t done their best on setting that thing up in the past. I hope that they let the superintendent there do his thing and not interfere, because he knows what he’s doing.”
With a victory this time at Shinnecock, Mickelson will join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to complete the modern Career Grand Slam.
Lefty has claimed five major titles, but none since the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, and will turn 48 during the week at Shinnecock so he is running out of time to become the sixth player to win all for modern majors.
Last year, he missed the U.S. Open at Erin Hills because it conflicted with his daughter’s high school graduation.
Mickelson also was in the hunt most of the way when Corey Pavin won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock in 1995, shooting 74 in the final round to fade to a tie for fourth, although only four shots back.
Probably is best chance to win our national championship came when he led by two strokes after 15 holes of the final round at Winged Foot and still was one shot ahead of Geoff Ogilvy of Australia when he stood on the 18th tee.
Then he sliced his tee shot off a hospitality tent, hit his second shot off a tree and saw his golf ball roll back to him. His third found a greenside bunker, he missed the green with his sand shot and wound up with a bogey that left him one stroke back.
“I am such an idiot,” Lefty said later.
Still, the 47-year-old Mickelson remains optimistic that he can complete the Grand Slam, especially after winning the WGC-Mexico Championship in March for his 43rd PGA Tour victory.
“The difficult thing for me is I continue to put a little bit too much pressure on myself in the majors now because I know that I don’t have a ton of time to win them, especially U.S. Opens,” Mickelson said.
“But these next two U.S. Opens, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach, give me two really good opportunities. So I need to keep my game, get my game sharp. In the past, I’ve been on at Shinnecock and I’m hopeful to do it again.”
If the USGA and Lefty’s game cooperate, it could happen at Shinnecock Hills.