Phil Mickelson has run the scenarios and gone over the numbers. And based on some careful, cross-country analysis, he knows what it'll take to reach the first tee next week at Erin Hills.
"I need a four-hour delay," Mickelson told CBS after a final-round 68 of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. "I need a minimum four-hour delay, most likely. That's the way I've kind of mapped it out."
Mickelson surprised many when he announced last week that he planned to bypass the season's second major in order to attend his daughter Amanda's high school graduation in Carlsbad, Calif. The ceremony, during which Amanda is giving the commencement speech, is set to begin at 10 a.m. PT - a mere 2 hours, 20 minutes before Mickelson is scheduled to begin the opening round alongside Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker.
Mickelson estimates that he could hop in a private jet in Carlsbad around the time that he's slated to tee off in Erin, Wis., with a 3 hour, 20 minute flight ahead of him. That means that he'd need a significant weather delay in order to have a shot at rounding out the career Grand Slam, and even then he'd be seeing Erin Hills for the first time.
But ever the optimist, Mickelson plans to keep his game "sharp" in the coming days and found a silver lining even in that scenario.
"I'm not going to really be prepared for Erin Hills. I haven't gone there, I don't know the golf course. I'd be showing up there on the first tee for the first time, and I would be relying on Bones to steer me around every single shot," Mickelson said. "Sometimes not seeing or knowing where the trouble is, or how bad it is, and seeing only where you want the ball to go, can sometimes be good in a tournament as tough as the U.S. Open."
While the first round at last year's U.S. Open was marred by heavy rain and lengthy delays, Mickelson knows it's a scenario that's unlikely to repeat next week. The Weather Channel forecast for Thursday at Erin Hills calls for sunny skies and only a 10 percent chance of rain, meaning it's likely Mickelson will miss the tournament for the first time since 1993.
"Last night there was a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms Thursday, right now it's 20 percent. So who knows," Mickelson said. "But it's not looking good, and it's totally fine."