TACOMA (Washington) - Phil Mickelson is racing against father time as much as his competitors, as he tries to complete a career Grand Slam at the US Open.
The American, who has been runner-up in his national championship a record six times, celebrated his 45th birthday yesterday - two days before the opening round of the 115th US Open.
Should he go on to claim the title at Chambers Bay, he would become the second-oldest US Open champion behind compatriot Hale Irwin, who was also 45 when he triumphed at Medinah.
There is a reason why Irwin's mark has stood since 1990. Experience may offer middle-aged players an edge in course management, but there is generally no substitute for the athleticism of youth. This year's US Open, however, just might be different, due to the many nuances of a links-style layout that takes time to learn, and represents Mickelson's best chance of winning all four modern Majors.
The man behind the choice of Chambers Bay as host venue for the tournament, the United States Golf Association's executive director Mike Davis, has already indicated that the course will reward those with imagination, and few golfers are more creative than Mickelson.
The left-hander himself said Chambers Bay is as close to a British Open links course as you will ever find in North America.
"It plays exactly like the British Open plays," said the 2013 British Open champion.
It helps that he will arrive on the back of a stellar final round at the FedEx St Jude Classic, when he closed with a five-under 65 on Sunday to finish joint-third. And he has already done his homework at the venue, which may give him an edge over late arrivals - if widespread reports about the course's many subtleties are to be believed.
"I'm pleased that I've developed kind of a game plan for each hole and how I'm going to get to certain pins," he said.
US Open: Day 1
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