US Open shakes Phil Mickelson



by   |  VIEW 56

US Open shakes Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson, for one, was not his fun-loving self and rumour has it, it may have been his last U.S Open. Mickelson returned to the location of debatably his worst US Open nightmare 14 years ago, when he held a one-shot lead on the 72nd tee, carved his drive, ran up a double-bogey six and gifted the title to Geoff Ogilvy.

His dream of atonement was looking possible for a moment when he recovered from poor drives to birdie his first two holes, but spraying his ball to all parts of Winged Foot soon lead to unavoidable costs, even causing Mickelson to say he would not accept a special invite to future U.S Opens.

Over his next 34 holes, Mickelson made only one more birdie, and rounds of 79 and 74 were seven too many to be around for the weekend. This defeat could mark his final round in the one major to evade his collection. "I enjoy the challenge this course provides," Mickelson said.

"I'm disappointed I didn't play better." The ferociously proud 50-year-old maintained earlier this year that he would turn down any future special invitations he would regard as "sympathy invites", vowing to have another crack only if he qualified on merit.

But even if he did qualify in the next few years, there is still no guarantee Mickelson would be willing to put himself through another two gruelling days, possible four, of gouging his ball out of thick rough. Good news, though, is that Mickelson can certainly clean up on the Senior circuit, and there's no doubt he can still be a factor on some of the friendlier PGA Tour layouts.

Can Spieth claw his way back?

Another golfer who took a hit at Winged Foot, is Jordan Spieth. Spieth said after his first-round 73, "standing on a tee at the US Open and not exactly knowing where the ball is going to go is not a great feeling."

And that feeling worsened on Friday, when he carded an 81 and finished a shot behind Mickelson. This meant Spieth missed the cut in the U.S Open for the second time in the last three years and is sliding towards the wrong side of the too 100.

Of course, he's working hard - possibly harder than ever - on the practice range trying to work things out, but it's clear his confidence in all parts of his game is at an all-time low, and sinking lower - seemingly by the week.

Rory McIlroy said pre-tournament that "something would have to go seriously wrong to get into the realms of goofy golf", with Winged Foot already one of the toughest tests in world golf without the need for interference.

And, by and large, there were few complaints about the conditions from the people that mattered - the players. Of course, the fairways were narrow, the rough thick and lush and the greens quick and firm, all required elements for a true US Open.

One thing they could do little about was the sheer power of the likes of Wolff and DeChambeau, in particular, who hit only five fairways between them in round three and still managed to shoot 65 and 70 respectively.