BETHESDA, Md. – When you’ve finished second place a record five times in the U.S. Open but never won it, are you emboldened by your performances or discouraged?
It’s a relevant question for Phil Mickelson as he tees it up in his 21st U.S. Open Thursday at Congressional Country Club.
“Being in contention so many times through the years, I really believe I can win this tournament,” Mickelson said.
NBC’s Johnny Miller said in a conference call Wednesday that Mickelson has some tough U.S. Open memories to overcome.
“Winged Foot doesn’t help you,” Miller said of ’06, when Mickelson had the lead at the 72nd tee and pushed his drive off a hospitality tent and then ricocheted his second shot off a tree to hand the title to Geoff Ogilvy.
“Couldn’t have been more heartbreak,” Miller said. “He had that won . . . For him to hit driver there, it’s why he hasn’t won the U.S. Open. He pulled out driver there, and it was, ‘What were you thinking?’
'It's amazing to me he even has five seconds.'
Two-time U.S. Open winner Curtis Strange, doing analyst work for ESPN this week, weighed in during a teleconference last week.
“If I was Phil Mickelson, I would look at five runner ups as very, very disappointing,” Strange said. “You have to try to take a positive out of it, but when you have his amount of talent, and his ability and his record, not winning, when you have a chance to win, is disappointing. And there is no way else to look at it. I felt for him every time. But he's had opportunities, and he just hasn't come through. I think he certainly would look at it as a black eye right now.”
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee marvels that Mickelson gets himself in contention so often at U.S. Opens, given his style of play.
“One of the coolest things in golf is that he’s one of the most inaccurate drivers on the planet and he’s finished second five times in the U.S. Open,” Chamblee said. “This guy figures out how to play golf.
'He’s just missing a great finish.'