US Open 2018

Patience the key for Mickelson

Phil Mickelson chipping out of the sand at the St Jude Classic. The American has another shot at completing a career Grand Slam this week.
Phil Mickelson chipping out of the sand at the St Jude Classic. The American has another shot at completing a career Grand Slam this week.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Time may be getting shorter, but Phil Mickelson insists he will not hurry as he vies for the US Open title that has long eluded him at Shinnecock Hills this week.

"The last thing I'm thinking about right now is trying to win," he told reporters on Monday.

"When you try to go out and win a US Open, you will lose it quick."

Mickelson, who will turn 48 on Saturday, has experienced plenty of heartbreak in 26 prior US Opens.

His six runner-up finishes are a record and, with the US Open the only Major missing from his resume, the American admits the prospect of becoming just the sixth player to complete a career Grand Slam is in his thoughts - even as he aims to play as if it is not.

"I love that I have another opportunity to try and complete the career Grand Slam," the 47-year-old said. "My goal, though, is not to try to win on Thursday. My goal is to stay in it Thursday, stay in it Friday, and have an opportunity for the weekend."

Mickelson is playing his third US Open at Shinnecock, the historic course on New York's Long Island where he finished second in 2004.

  • SELECTED TEE TIMES

  • US OPEN 1ST ROUND (USA unless stated)

    HOLE 1

    7.29pm Justin Rose (Eng)

    7.40 Bubba Watson, Jason Day (Aus), Brooks Koepka

    1.14am Sergio Garcia (Esp), Jon Rahm (Esp), Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp)

    1.25 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)

    1.47 Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods

    1.58 Li Haotong (Chn), Kim Si Woo (Kor), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)


    HOLE 10

    7.40pm Paul Casey (Eng)

    7.51 Patrick Reed

    8.02 Rory McIlroy (Nir), Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson

    8.13 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Marc Leishman (Aus), Rickie Fowler 1.47 Henrik Stenson (Swe), Adam Scott (Aus)

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"This is certainly one of my favourite courses," he added. "It's the best set-up, in my opinion. And the reason I say that is all areas of your game are being tested.

"I'm excited about the set-up because the short game is going to be a huge factor. If you do miss a green, it will stay on the fairway. It will stay where touch will be a factor. Putting will be challenged, as well as ball-striking, irons, driver.

"I feel as though the luck of a course has been taken out as much as possible to where skill is the primary factor."

This year, Shinnecock will play 449 yards longer than it did when it was host in 2004. Mickelson also insists he brings no baggage from his 2004 near-miss, when he double-bogeyed the 17th on the last day and lost to Retief Goosen by two strokes.

All his US Open disappointments, he said, have provided valuable lessons. Along with wisdom, he brings a recharged game to Shinnecock. He claimed his first title in nearly five years at the WGC Mexico Championship in March. He also had six top-10 finishes this term.

"Certainly the way I've been playing this year - and at the consistency level as well as at a much higher level than I've played the last few years - gives me a great opportunity," the American said.

Dustin Johnson, who reclaimed the world No. 1 spot with a win at last week's St Jude Classic, is another player in form following his second victory of the season.

"Winning, I think, is a bigger confidence booster than being No. 1 in the world," he said, as he seeks to win his second US Open. "For me, playing the way I did all week knowing everything that was on the line, gives me a lot of confidence."

Fourteen-time Major champion Tiger Woods, who is on the comeback trail following spinal fusion surgery, had arrived at Shinnecock early and played practice holes with Jordan Spieth on Sunday.

Hank Haney, Woods' former coach, said it would be "difficult" for his former pupil to win a US Open again because of the difficult courses. But 18-time Major winner Jack Nicklaus sees no reason the 42-year-old cannot add to his tally of Major titles.

"I've always said that if Tiger comes back and plays then he's still got a shot at breaking my record," Nicklaus said. "Even with 10 years passing, it doesn't make any difference. He's still a great athlete and a great golfer."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline 'Patience the key for Mickelson'. Print Edition | Subscribe