US Open's new exemption criteria helps six-times runner-up Phil Mickelson to complete career Grand Slam

A US Open win would put Mickelson's name alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods on the career Grand Slam list.

Reuters June 26, 2020 08:56:59 IST
US Open's new exemption criteria helps six-times runner-up Phil Mickelson to complete career Grand Slam

Phil Mickelson will get another shot to complete the career Grand Slam thanks to an adjusted exemption criteria for this year’s US Open that was announced by the United States Golf Association (USGA) on Thursday.

Mickelson, a runner-up at the US Open a record six times, was in danger of missing the 17-20 September tournament at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York but made it into the field as the COVID-19 outbreak led to a change in the exemption categories.

Among the changes announced by the USGA, which eliminated all qualifying for the event, were to include the top 70 players in the world ranking as of 15 March- when the PGA Tour went into three-month a COVID-19 hiatus - instead of the usual 60.

Mickelson was 61st at the time.

The US Open is the lone major Mickelson has never won. In 2006 at Winged Foot he famously held a one-shot lead entering the final hole but carded a double-bogey and lost by one shot to Geoff Ogilvy.

Mickelson said earlier in the year he would not accept a special invitation to compete in the U.S. Open, and that he was confident he could earn his way into the tournament.

“I won’t accept it,” Mickelson said in February at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.”

Mickelson is a five-times major champion having won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the PGA Championship in 2005 and the British Open in 2013.

A US Open win would put his name alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods on the career Grand Slam list.

But Mickelson, who turned 50 last week, is on the verge of battling a lost cause as nobody has won the US Open at such an advanced age, with American Hale Irwin becoming the oldest champion at 45 in 1990.

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