US Open 2021: 'Unique opportunity' – Can Phil Mickelson complete career grand slam at Torrey Pines?
Having become the oldest major champion of all time at the US PGA Championship last month, Phil Mickelson is aiming to create more golf history at the 121st US Open. Lefty, who turns 51 on Wednesday, is bidding to become only the sixth man to complete the career grand slam – and feels he has a unique opportunity at Torrey Pines in his home city of San Diego.
Phil Mickelson is chasing a career grand slam at Torrey Pines.
Phil Mickelson will not want for local knowledge or lack of preparation when he begins his latest quest to complete the career grand slam at the 121st US Open in his home city of San Diego on Thursday.
'Lefty' became the oldest major champion in history when he carried off the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, last month, in a career-defining triumph.
With the US Open hosted by Torrey Pines, Mickelson – who turns 51 on Wednesday – has spent the past week revisiting the South Course at Torrey as he eyes the prospect of creating more golf folklore.
The six-times major winner has finished runner-up at the US Open a record six times since 1999, but believes Torrey presents him with a serious chance on a track that has witnessed him lift the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Buick Invitational) in 2000 and 2001.
Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson prepare for the US Open at Torrey Pines.
Image credit: Getty Images
“I don't spend a lot of time out here other than the Farmers. I really made an effort here, having the last week off, to spend time out here and really learn, re-learn the greens,” he said.
“So I spent a lot of hours out here on the greens last week to see if I can get that local knowledge again, and we'll see how it goes.
It's a unique opportunity because I've never won a US Open. It's in my backyard. I have a chance to prepare properly, and I wanted to put in the right work.
Mickelson is bracing himself for a trademark endurance test at the US Open with par numbers critical in a major lifted by Tiger Woods when it was last staged by Torrey in 2008. Woods defeated Rocco Mediate at the first extra hole after both men shot level par 71s in an 18-hole play-off.
This drama all played out after Woods and Mediate were the only players to finish under par for the 72 holes with a one under total of 283. Mickelson finished in a share of 18th on plus six.
Tiger Woods beat Rocco Mediate in the US Open back in 2008
Image credit: Getty Images
"Tiger's won here eight or nine times," said Mickelson, who is priced at 70-1 to claim back-to-back majors. "There's a proper way to play here to each pin and I just have tried to do too much in the past.
"I felt like if I could learn the greens and know what a lot of the 30 and 40-foot putts do, then I don't have to try to get it into these tiny little shelves, and I can make easy pars and make a few of the longer putts.
“It’s very difficult to get it to some of the pin positions. As long as it is at sea level it's going to be a difficult task, but it seems like the setup is pristine, and it's going to be a fun, very difficult challenge.”
Men's Grand Slam major champions
Jack Nicklaus (USA)
Tiger Woods (USA)
Ben Hogan (USA)
Gary Player (RSA)
Gene Sarazen (USA)
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