Mickelson out to end US Open heartache
Phil Mickelson hopes to put 26 years of US Open misery behind him when the tournament returns to Oakmont Country Club this week.
Elsewhere, the three best players in the world at the moment – Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – will resume their battle for supremacy in the Pittsburgh suburbs.
No other golfer has endured heartache at one tournament as Mickelson has at the US Open. The southpaw has finished as the runner-up a record six times, since playing in the tournament for the first time in 1990.
Having won the Open Championship in 2013, together with his titles at the Masters and PGA Championship, the US Open is the only major missing from Mickelson's trophy cabinet. Only five players in the history of golf have completed the career grand slam of winning each of the four majors: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.
To join the elite list of players that have won each of the majors, Mickelson will have to conquer one of the hardest courses in the world.
Oakmont opened in 1904 as a rugged par-70 course, featuring 210 bunkers and probably the most difficult-to-navigate greens in the US. Add rough so thick that you could sprain your wrist, the longest par-three in US Open history, the second longest par-five at 667 yards to the equation, then it becomes clear why Oakmont has been a nightmare course for many a US Open hopeful.
"I think that it accomplishes the goal that the members want, which is to have the hardest course in the world or in America or wherever, and I think they've accomplished that," Mickelson said on the eve of the tournament.
"I think that there's no reprieve off the tee, there's no reprieve into the greens, and there's certainly no reprieve on the greens. These greens are way more difficult to putt than Augusta's."
Elsewhere, defending champion Spieth and 2011 winner McIlroy have both won the US Open in their early teens, while at 28-years-of-age, Day still has plenty of time on his side as well.
The world's three best players have all tasted success so far this year, and seem primed for the challenge that awaits them at Oakmont.
For Spieth, memories will still linger of the disaster at his previous major – his title defense at Augusta – where he blew a five-shot lead on the back nine to hand Danny Willett the title.
The 22-year-old Texan insists he has put that behind him, though, and if his recent win at Colonial is taken into account, Spieth may have a point.
McIlroy, on the other hand, feels he needs to reign in his aggressive nature if he is to achieve the “biggest accomplishment in the game.”
Day, meanwhile, admitted that he felt particularly stressed going into the event, despite sitting atop the world rankings.
Morning rain and afternoon thunderstorms are expected to hit the course for the opening round, but the weather conditions for the remainder of the week is expected to be perfect for golf.
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