Phil Mickelson is the granddaddy of this US Open. Playing in his 27th tournament, the lefty is still looking for that ever elusive championship that will give him the career Grand Slam.
Could this be the year for Phil? Well the changes they made at Shinnecock certainly favor him.
“The reason why I’m excited about the setup is short game is going to be a huge factor,” he said. “If you do miss a green, it will stay in fairway. It will stay where touch will be a factor. But I love how that has been brought into it, rather than the hack out of the rough, hope it comes out okay factor.”
Besides the short game, wind is going to be a big factor. The East End of Long Island is known for it’s sharp gales off the water, so it will most certainly come into play this week, as cooler temperatures usually mean a wind factor.
“The biggest impact that the wind has on the golf course are the pin positions because, when holes that are severe, like No. 7, blows — when the green is blowing downwind, downhill, the ball won’t stay; but when the wind is blowing uphill, the ball will stay,” he said. ‘So the wind actually plays a huge factor in allowing the course to be playable and allowing for certain pin placements, and the direction will be a big part of the setup this week. The wind will ultimately, I think, affect where some of the pin placements are.”
Other than that, Mickelson does like playing here and reflects fondly of 1995 and 2004. And because of the way Shinnecock is paid out, he knows this may be his best chance to get that ever elusive title.
“Certainly, with the way I’ve been playing this year and at the consistency level, as well as at a much higher level than I’ve played the last few years, gives me a great opportunity,” Mickelson said. “But the last thing I’m thinking about right now is trying to win. I’m trying to get myself in position for the weekend because, when you try to go out and win a U.S. Open, you will lose it quick.
“So I’m trying to just position myself these first couple of days, get through the first challenge of Thursday, Friday, and have a chance on the weekend because a lot happens on the weekend, especially after the cut when you start eliminating players.”
Hopefully when the cuts do come the old man of the tour will be playing this weekend and in contention for that championship. But let’s not look at Saturday as of yet.
“It’s just that I don’t want to get ahead of myself, and I don’t want to start thinking about results,” Mickelson said. “I just want to go out and play a solid round on Thursday, given the conditions, and shoot a number that’s good relative to what the conditions of the course are and worry about trying to close it out on the weekends.
“The way you get in trouble here is you anticipate too much and you get too far ahead. Right now, I just want to enjoy these first couple of days of preparation and go shoot a number on Thursday, not get ahead of myself, and hopefully give myself a chance on the weekends.”
Everything is lining up for the veteran.