Isn’t it ironic that the headline of this article is so controversial? After all, Phil Mickelson is future Hall of Famer, has won five majors and is currently ranked 11th in the world.
But when it comes to the US Open, there seems to be one sure bet: Mickelson won’t win.
He’s had every chance to capture a US Open title, but has seen it slip through his fingers every time. He’s finished second a record six times, two more than anyone else in history. He’s been right there so often, but hasn’t found a way to get it done.
Some weren’t necessarily his fault. In 1999, Payne Stewart drained one of the most dramatic putts ever drained at the US Open to top Mickelson by a stroke.
But some definitely left nobody but Lefty to blame. It began in 2006, when he infamously drove it into the hospitality tent on the 72nd hole holding a one-stroke lead. He then hit a tree, plugged one in the bunker, and double bogeyed his way to second place.
In 2009 he bogeyed two of his final four holes to finish two behind Lucas Glover. Just last year Mickelson once again had a golden opportunity, holding the lead through 54 holes. But a rocky Sunday that included three back nine bogeys earned him a silver medal once again.
Why on earth would I pick this guy in arguably the hardest tournament in the world to win?
Mickelson is simply destined to do it. Maybe it won’t be this year, but at a course that fits his free-swinging style, I like his chances. Furthermore, he’s finished second at Pinehurst before- to the aforementioned Stewart.
Pinehurst has undergone changes and is actually more open than it used to be. They’ve cut the rough and while there are still some nasty waste areas, the course might cater to players that are longer, yet wilder, off the tee.
I think we can all agree that Mickelson epitomizes “longer, yet wilder.” This should be right up his alley.
Mickelson has put himself in position to win the US Open so many times that he’s bound to capitalize once. He has to get it done, even if he backs into it or gets lucky somehow. It’s destiny.
To be fair, Mickelson is not playing great golf right now. He missed the cut at Augusta and TPC Sawgrass, and hasn’t recorded a top ten yet this year. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him flop at Pinehurst.
But I wouldn’t be shocked to see him win, either. He just finished 11th in his last start, an encouraging sign of things to come. He’s hitting a decent amount of greens (67.5 percent), which is more important than driving stats. It doesn’t really matter where you drive it, it’s hitting the green that matters.
He’s also very good out of bunkers. Mickelson ranks 9th in sand save percentage this year at 61.2 percent. This will certainly help him at Pinehurst, a course with plenty of sand (111 to be exact, and there are plenty of sandy waste areas as well).
It was always meant to happen: Phil Mickelson walking down the 18th fairway at the US Open to a standing ovation. Not just because he’s one of the most beloved golfers in history, but because he’s the champion.
Now in the twilight of his career, it’s more fitting now than ever that he rides off into the Pinehurst sunset.