US OPEN '20: Mickelson returns to scene of spectacular crash

Whether or not it used to be at Winged Foot the place Phil Mickelson misplaced his easiest probability to win the U.S. Open is up for debate.

It without a doubt used to be essentially the most memorable, if now not impressive.

A tee shot off the hospitality tent that caromed into yellow grass that have been trampled through per week’s price of spectators. A three-iron that struck a tree. A shot that began between hospitality chalets and timber and hooked most effective a long way sufficient to catch a buried lie within the bunker left of the fairway. An explosion shot that raced off the fairway into 6 inches of tough.

A double bogey, turning his one-shot lead into every other runner-up end.

Mickelson crouched at the inexperienced when his hopes have been long gone, head in his palms. “I’m such an fool,” he stated later, an endearing instance of the way for all his miscues, nobody owns it like Mickelson.

He returns to Winged Foot 14 years later, nonetheless lacking the overall piece of a profession Grand Slam, extra practical than ever.

“I wish to no less than be aggressive and provides myself an affordable probability,” he stated Saturday on the Safeway Open, his ultimate tune-up for a U.S. Open that has been moved to September. “I drove it very poorly all week at Winged Foot in ’06 and my brief sport used to be extraordinary. It used to be the most efficient short-game week of my profession. I wish to strike it higher.”

He concept again to Harding Park ultimate month on the PGA Championship the place he concept he hit the ball neatly, most effective to fight at the vegetables.

“If I put it in combination, I feel I will be able to be aggressive,” he stated. “And that’s the reason what I might care to do is have a number of excellent possibilities at it.”

Mickelson is 50. The oldest U.S. Open champion used to be Hale Irwin, who used to be 45 when he gained at Medinah in 1990. The oldest winner of any main used to be Julius Boros, who used to be 48 when he gained the 1968 PGA Championship.

Positive, Tom Watson used to be an Eight-foot putt clear of profitable the British Open at age 59. Greg Norman used to be 53 when he took a two-shot lead into the overall spherical at Royal Birkdale in 2008. That is hyperlinks golfing. The U.S. Open is other, and Winged Foot has a historical past of being a beast.

Mickelson wasn’t the one participant who regrets the overall hour of that 2006 U.S. Open.

Colin Montgomerie additionally made double bogey at the 18th hollow and completed one shot at the back of, and he used to be in the course of the golf green, 172 yards away with a 7-iron in his hand and essentially the most repeatable swing in golfing. He chunked it so badly that Montgomerie used to be heard pronouncing, “What sort of shot used to be that?”

Jim Furyk previous had a Five-foot par putt at the ultimate hollow that he checked out from each and every course earlier than lacking, leaving him one shot at the back of.

However this used to be Mickelson, who already had luggage on the U.S. Open and has since added to it.

Winged Foot used to be his fourth silver medal on the U.S. Open. He picked up every other in 2009 at Bethpage Black, and possibly his largest alternative used to be at Merion in 2013, when he two times made bogey with a wedge in his hand, from the tee field on the par-Three 13th and from the golf green at the 15th.

“This used to be my easiest probability of them all,” Mickelson stated that day. “It in reality hurts.”

In all however two of the ones six runner-up finishes. the U.S. Open used to be remembered as a lot for Mickelson as the fellow who gained.

The exceptions have been 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2, when Payne Stewart made a 15-foot par putt to win, and Bethpage in 2002 when Tiger Woods beat him through 3.

There used to be 2004 at Shinnecock Hills, the place Mickelson’s double bogey at the 17th hollow prepared the ground for Retief Goosen. There used to be double bogey at Winged Foot, the misfired wedges at Merion. And there used to be Bethpage in 2009, when his spouse used to be going through surgical operation for breast most cancers and left him a be aware asking him to convey house that silver trophy. He used to be tied for the lead with 5 holes to move till lacking par putts from Three ft at the 15th and eight ft at the 17th.

As Geoff Ogilvy stated after profitable in 2006, “Humorous issues occur once in a while.”

Majors are loaded with such moments.

Believe Jean Van de Velde and his stranger-than-fiction triple bogey at the ultimate hollow at Carnoustie, or Ed Sneed shedding a three-shot lead with 3 holes to play in 1979 Masters with 3 bogeys. Arnold Palmer misplaced a seven-shot lead at the again 9 to Billy Casper at Olympic in 1966.

Ben Curtis gained in his main debut at Royal St. George’s within the 2003 British Open, basically as a result of Thomas Bjorn took 3 photographs to get out of a bunker at the 70th hollow.

The low rating all the time win. Curtis presented as a lot when requested as soon as if he gained or Bjorn misplaced. “Once I signed my card, it used to be for 72 holes, now not 71,” he responded.

Ogilvy concurred.

“At Winged Foot … that used to be misplaced through more than one gamers,” Ogilvy stated years later. “It’s the fellow who’s nonetheless there on the finish. (Nick) Faldo used to be the grasp of it. He steadily gained them through now not doing anything else unsuitable. He by no means did anything else unsuitable at the ultimate 9 holes, did he? That’s the way you win. (Jack) Nicklaus gained them like that. He simply performed, and everybody else, the trouble of the path stuck up with them.”

Mickelson no less than will get every other probability.

Even that used to be unsure firstly of the yr when it regarded as even though he would possibly need to qualify. He stated at Pebble Seashore he would now not ask for a unique exemption, which a participant of his stature would advantage.

The COVID-19 pandemic close down golfing a month later, the USGA had no selection to visit an all-exempt U.S. Open and it expanded the arena rating class from the highest 60 to most sensible 70. Mickelson used to be No. 61.

He has had two possibilities to win this yr at the PGA Excursion. The sport continues to be there. However he hasn’t contended in a big since Henrik Stenson outlasted him of their outstanding duel at Royal Troon within the 2016 British Open.

On the other hand, it is Mickelson, and there may be by no means any telling what he’s going to do subsequent.

Humorous issues occur once in a while, do not they?

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