Mickelson Gets Exemption Into U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson is a U.S. Open victory short of the Career Grand Slam, but wasn’t qualified to play in the 121st version of our national championship near his home on the South Course at Torrey Pines in La Jolla on June 17-20.

However, Mickelson has received and accepted a special exemption from the United States Golf Association to play in the U.S Open, in which he has finished second a record six times and placed in the top 10 on ten occasions in 29 appearances.

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

Mickelson, who will turn 51 years old one day before the start of the tournament at Torrey Pines, is the sixth player since 2010 to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Open.

Only one player in U.S. Open history, Hale Irwin in 1990 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, has won playing on a special exemption.

“Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” Mickelson said in a statement. “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.”

Mickelson is currently ranked 116th in the World Golf Rankings and would have needed to climb into the top 60 of the World Golf Rankings by June 7 to qualify for the U.S. Open without an exemption or playing a sectional qualifier, which was part of his pan before receiving the exemption.

Lefty has won five major titles among his 44 PGA Tour titles, including the 2004, 2006 and 2010 Masters, the 2005 PGA Championship and the 2013 Open Championship.

Lefty has played in the U.S. Open 31 times and finished second in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Mickelson took a one-stroke lead to the final round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Country Club in Ardmore, Pa., where he held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds.

He still was in position to possibly pull out a victory when he blocked his drive to the left on the 18th hole and closed with a bogey to cap a 4-over-par 74 to tie for second, two strokes behind Justin Rose of England.

“It would have changed the way I look at this tournament entirely,” Mickelson said afterward. “If I had won today, or if I ultimately win, I’ll look back at the Opens and think that (finishing second so many times) was positive.

“If I never get the Open, then I’ll look back and think … every time I think of the Open, I just think of heartbreak.”

Should Mickelson ever win the U.S. Open, he would join Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus as the only winners of the Career Grand Slam.

Mickelson missed the cut at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and finished outside the top 40 each of the previous two years.

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