- Buoyed by that sixth major title, he’s feeling confident ahead of the US Open.
- Should he be successful, Mickelson will join an elite list of just five golfers that have managed to win all four of the major tournaments.
- “If he can win on the Ocean Course at Kiawah in the PGA he can win anywhere…”
The US Open. The only major title to elude Phil Mickelson from landing a career Grand Slam.
The 50-year-old recently stunned the field at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, when against the odds, he became the oldest winner of a major golf tournament. He qualified for the PGA Championship, as a former winner – having previously been successful in 2005. But even the betting exchange couldn’t predict that he would go on to win – as he beat the runners-up Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen by two strokes.
He had sat outside of the PGA World Rankings top 100 – the first time in his career since 1993 – but he’s back amongst the big names, climbing to 32nd after the PGA victory.
Prior to the tournament kicking off, Mickelson received a special invitation to the US Open later this month, but that most recent victory at Kiawah Island has rewarded him with an even greater prize – a five-year exemption for all four of golf’s majors.
Buoyed by that sixth major title, he’s feeling confident ahead of the US Open:
“I believed for a long time that I could play at this level again…”
I didn’t see why I couldn’t, but I wasn’t executing the way I believed I could.”
Now, attention quickly turns to the second major in the calendar, which is being held at Torrey Pines Golf Course, San Diego – for the first time since 2008. It comes with added magic, with Mickelson playing at a home city major, looking to land that elusive title.
As is often the case, the same names appear at the top of the betting markets – the likes of Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson. At the time of writing, Mickelson is some way down the pecking order, at a price of 50/1. But he has experience and momentum on his side, and came out on top against some of the biggest names in the sport. There’s no reason why he couldn’t do it again.
And he has come close before. No fewer than six times in 29 appearances at the major has Mickelson finished as the runner-up. Most recently, at the 2013 US Open, he finished T2, two strokes behind winner, Justin Rose. Most agonisingly of all, in 1999, he was just a single stroke away from winning the one championship he so desperately wants, to complete a career slam – with Payne Stewart taking the honours that year.
Should he be successful, Mickelson will join an elite list of just five golfers that have managed to win all four of the major tournaments: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.
Former golfer, Tom Watson, who won the US Open once, but has eight major championship wins to his name, believes Mickelson has what it takes to make history – and defy the odds:
“If he can win on the Ocean Course at Kiawah in the PGA he can win anywhere…”
“That’s a tough, tough, tough golf course. Torrey Pines will be easy compared to Kiawah.”
Mickelson himself has claimed that Torrey Pines could be his last big shot of fulfilling that Grand Slam dream. He managed to roll back the years last month, and he’ll need to put in a similar big performance again. There’s no doubting the home crowd will be willing on one of golf’s good guys.