CROMWELL, Conn. — There is one major piece missing from Phil Mickelson’s golf résumé — he’s never won the U.S. Open. He’s starting to get it into his head that it likely won’t ever happen.
“I really don’t have many more chances,” Mickelson said Wednesday after his practice round at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. “Probably have to come to the realization I’m not going to win the U.S. Open, but I’m not going to stop trying. I’ll keep trying. You never know.”
Only five players in history — Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods — have won all four majors. Mickelson has won the Masters three times and the PGA Championship and The Open Championship once each. But the U.S. Open has escaped him. He’s come close, finishing as runner-up six times, most recently in 2013, when he lost by two shots to Justin Rose at Merion.
Mickelson entered this year’s U.S. Open with high expectations given his history along the Monterey Peninsula. He had won at Pebble Beach a record-tying five times, including a three-shot victory in February over Paul Casey in a Monday finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. But this past week, Mickelson was never really a factor, shooting 75-72 on the weekend to finish 17 shots behind winner Gary Woodland in a tie for 52nd. Next year, the U.S. Open heads to Winged Foot, site of one of Mickelson’s more disappointing near misses. In 2006, he double-bogeyed the final hole and lost to Geoff Ogilvy by one shot.
“Out here, the difference is so small between winning and losing,” Mickelson said. “It’s one shot here or there. That’s something I’ve been working on, or that’s the challenge that I face.”
At 49, Mickelson has admitted he’s building his schedule around venues at which he thinks he can best compete. Along with the win at Pebble Beach earlier this year, he won the WGC-Mexico Championship in March of 2018. That win snapped a five-year drought.
“So I certainly haven’t played at the same level of consistency week in and week out that I did back in my 20s and 30s,” he said. “When I play well, I’m able to play at a very comparable level to what I played back at the height of my career. I’m able to pick off wins like I did earlier this year at AT&T, last year at Mexico.
“Just not having as many opportunities, and so that’s been the hardest thing for me. Having energy levels and recovering and being focused for each shot in four rounds.”