Golf Legend Phil Mickelson Chases Elusive Grand Slam
Phil Mickelson is a legend of the golf world, a five-time major winner and Hall of Famer. His record is the envy of many players on the tour, with an Open Championship, two PGA Championships and three Masters to his name in a career going back almost 30 years. It was 1992 when the San Diego native first turned professional after graduating from ASU, but it took 12 years for him to lift his first major, despite some strong finishes. The 50-year-old is still pounding the fairways, desperate to add that one elusive title that would give him a Grand Slam: The US Open.
Mickelson and the Open have something of a love/hate relationship. As his career begins to wind down it is the only tournament still to evade his clutches, but he has finished as runner up on six occasions, firstly in 1999 and latterly in 2013. This year, at Torrey Pines, he will once again be looking to make history and become a Grand Slam champion.
Mickelson almost missed out on the tournament altogether. ESPN reports there was talk of him having to qualify in the 36-hole sectional qualifier on June 7 in Columbus, Ohio but instead he recently accepted a special exemption from the United States Golf Association on Friday to play in the 121st tournament bearing the US Open name. Torrey Pines is close to his hometown of San Diego and that certainly has had a bearing on his decision, as he revealed in a statement.
“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.”
Despite the obvious romance surrounding the story, it is not going to be easy for Mickelson to take home the prestigious trophy, and write himself into the history books. He is ranked as an outsider with Bwin, behind 20 other golfers. Dustin Johnson is the favorite, with Brooks Koepka and last year’s winner, Bryson DeChambeau. Odds mean little though, as Mickelson has already proven this year.
Mickelson is ranked 116th in the world heading into the tournament and has uniquely never been World Number One, having played second fiddle to Tiger Woods for much of his career. However, he did surprise the world in May when he lifted the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, becoming the oldest player in the history of the game to take a major title. Could that be the start of the US Open fairytale? After his win, he refused to rule it out.
“I just love this game of golf and I love what I do and I love the challenge of competing against such great players,” USA Today reports Mickelson as saying after defeating Koepka in an emotional final round. “This might be my last win, but I also might go on a bit of a run.
Whilst he made history at Kiawah Island, another win at Torrey Pines really would be a fairytale conclusion to a stellar career which is an inspiration to many golfers today, old and young.