Even at 47 years of age, it’s never too late to dream and Phil Mickelson will go into this weekend’s US Open bidding to become just the sixth person in history to complete a career grand slam.
The San Diego native – who turns 48 on Saturday – is a six time runner-up at the major, including his run back in 2004 when he and eventual winner Retief Goosen were the only players to finish under par at Shinnecock.
Now returning to that same course he came very close to conquering 14 years ago and also played on back in 1995, the American will be hoping to go one better and clinch that elusive crown.
Even for a man of all Mickelson’s experience and pedigree, Shinnecock will require his full repertoire of skillset to win. It’s a fast and difficult course that is a riddle to solve even for the best.
And, like many of the great links courses which influenced the Long Island venue, there is danger at every turn should a player not approach each hole with total focus and attention to detail on their shot selection.
But the five-time major winner’s form in 2018 suggests he is a serious contender, with five top-6 finishes in 13 tournaments, including a play-off victory over Justin Thomas in Mexico to win the 43rd tournament of his illustrious career.
After his win in Mexico in March, he finished T36 at the Masters and followed it up with a top-5 finish at the Wells Fargo. He missed the cut at the Players Championship but is on course to make the US Ryder Cup team for a 12th time – where he has never had to rely on a captain’s pick.
His last major triumph was five years ago at the Open Championship in Muirfield, and although he boasts a poor record of T33-T22-MC-MC-T36 in his last five major finishes, the pressure is undoubtedly there as he chases the one major that has evaded his trophy cabinet.
The oldest player to win the US Open is Hale Irwin, who was 45 when he sealed the title in 1990. With a victory, Mickelson would become the second oldest major winner, behind Julius Boros who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship.
Remarkably, the world No20 opted to miss last year’s championship to attend the graduation of his daughter, who was born the day after he finished second at Pinehurst in 1999.
At the St. Jude Classic on Sunday, he showed his class once more, finishing tied for 12th after posting rounds of 66-70-73-65, behind winner Dustin Johnson who clinched his 18th career title in dominant fashion.
And with the second major of the year teeing off on Thursday, Mickelson looks primed for an assault on the leaderboard.
The left-hander is grouped for the first two rounds with two other players who are one major away from completing the grand slam – Rory McIlroy (US Open winner in 2011) and Jordan Spieth (US Open winner in 2015).
It may seem like a stiff task when challenging perhaps two of the most talented golfers of the current era, but Mickelson has the confidence, flawless short game and drive to win on his 28th appearance at the major.
Know more about Sport360 Application