Huge Support for Leftie in California
Leftie, who first tasted victory on the PGA Tour as a 20-year-old amateur in 1991, has been at the forefront of world golf for over two decades. Since the turn of the millennium, only Tiger Woods has won more majors, and had more PGA Tour success than Mickelson.
He has won five major titles, which include three victories at Augusta National, while accumulating 44 wins on the PGA Tour – 31 of these since the start of 2000. The only notable absentee from his long list of achievements is a US Open title. Six times he has finished second in America’s oldest major championship, the first occasion in 1999 and most recently in 2013.
Even though he is no longer one of the top three or four players in the world, his current ranking of 25 illustrates he is still performing to a high level and this is reflected in the US Open 2019 betting table which is headed by two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka.
And there are many reasons why a Mickelson victory at the forthcoming US Open would be celebrated by golf fans in the United States – and possibly the world over.
First, with the tournament being staged at Pebble Beach, it would mean that a native Californian would be winning the title in his home state.
Second, victory would make Mickelson the oldest major champion of all time. This milestone is held by Julius Boros who was 48 years, four months and 18 days, when he won the PGA Championship of 1968.
Third, it will be Mickelson’s birthday on the final day of the US Open – June 16th – when the San Diego-born golfer turns 49.
Fourth, it would also help to make up for last year’s well-publicised lapse in discipline when he incurred a two-stroke penalty during the third round of the US Open on Long Island, New York.
In a moment of anger, no doubt frustrated by the slippery putting surfaces of Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson watched in horror as his slowly moving ball rolled centimetres beyond the edge of cup on the 13th green in round three, and then gather pace as it continued down a slope.
But before allowing his putt to stop, Mickelson marched annoyingly over to the moving ball and knocked it back towards the hole. There were gasps of disbelief among spectators standing around the green, for what was such a glaring disregard for the rules and etiquette of golf.
Mickelson’s behaviour was certainly out of character, and the United States Golf Association penalised him two shots, which meant he carded an 81.
Many, including his former coach and TV pundit Butch Harmon, thought Mickelson should have been disqualified for this serious misdemeanour, and he went on to complete the tournament 15 strokes behind champion Koepka and in a tie-for-48th.
Mickelson walked away from New York with his tail hanging firmly between his legs and his head bowed in embarrassment, but all this would be forgiven if he could end his many years of US Open misery by lifting the trophy in 2019.
Finally, Pebble Beach is a course he knows and likes well. Five times he has won the AT&T National Pro-Am, for which Pebble is the host course. The most recent of these successes came in February of this year when he finished three strokes clear of runner-up Paul Casey, thanks to a closing 65.
It was his 14th PGA Tour title in California, and if he can secure one more West coast victory at Pebble in mid-June, it would certainly rank as his greatest moment in his home state.
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