Punch Shot: Will Mickelson ever win a U.S. Open?

By Ryan LavnerJune 18, 2013, 12:10 pm

The 113th U.S. Open delivered more heartbreak to Phil Mickelson, now a six-time runner-up at the year’s second major.

We asked our GolfChannel.com panel of writers: After witnessing this latest close call, do you think Lefty will ever win the U.S. Open?


By RYAN LAVNER

This was Phil Mickelson’s best chance to win the major he covets most, and he knew it.

For the first time, he was leading the U.S. Open outright heading into the final day. It was his 43rd birthday and, yes, it was Father’s Day, a picture-perfect scenario given his good-dad globetrotting on the eve of the tournament. Fans in the Northeast love Phil, they adore him, and they desperately wanted to see him succeed. And, perhaps more importantly, Merion was a course he enjoyed, a setup and challenge he relished, even telling the USGA’s Mike Davis that on the first hole Thursday. He thought he had the perfect game plan – no driver, an extra wedge. And he thought he had the spark he needed – a hole-out wedge shot on the 10th to regain a one-shot lead.

Because if Phil Mickelson couldn’t win this Open, at this time, under those circumstances, well, then he never would.

The arthritic 43-year-old is running out of chances, his silver collection now more expansive than Zales. Sadly, he knew it, too: “This could have been a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the U.S. Open,” he said afterward.

What will he see and remember now? Only more heartbreak.


By REX HOGGARD

Yes, this one hurt. Maybe even more than 1999 and 2006 and 2009, but those who think that Sunday at Merion was his last chance to heal his Open pain haven’t been paying attention.

Mickelson’s sixth runner-up showing may have been his best chance to win his national championship, but it won’t be his last. Not the way he’s swinging right now and not with the lineup of Open venues the next few years.

Next year the U.S. Open will be played at Pinehurst, where Mickelson finished second to Payne Stewart in 1999, and in 2018 the championship returns to Shinnecock Hills, where he was runner-up to Retief Goosen in 2004.

In five years, Mickelson will be 48 years old, perhaps past his prime but hardly outside of the margin of error considering what Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Greg Norman have done competitively well into their golden years.

“He is swinging the club as good as I’ve ever seen him hit it,” Butch Harmon, Mickelson’s swing coach, said this week at Merion.

Mickelson, who turned 43 on Sunday, is still among the longest players on Tour (he ranks 59th in driving this season) and said this week that he’s as healthy as he’s ever been.

Time is running out on Lefty’s U.S. Open dream, but he’s not finished yet.


By WILL GRAY

While Phil Mickelson’s career deserves to include a U.S. Open Championship at some point, the fact remains that it will likely conclude without Lefty’s hands ever touching the trophy.

Now a runner-up six times over, Mickelson will be days shy of his 44th birthday when the season’s second major returns to Pinehurst next summer. While the four-time major winner has had success on the Donald Ross course – he received the first of his six silver medals at Pinehurst in 1999, when he fell one shot short of Payne Stewart’s winning total – only six players have won majors during the modern era at 44 years of age or older.

Currently sixth in the world, Mickelson is certainly capable of winning tournaments and competing against elite fields, as evidenced by his performance this week at Merion. His window to add a fifth major title, though, is closing by the month. While the U.S. Open rotation will soon return to a pair of courses where Mickelson has also finished second – Shinnecock Hills in 2018 and Winged Foot in 2020 – Lefty will be 48 and 50 years old, respectively, when those events are contested.

Mickelson has had no shortage of chances to capture the national championship, but his multitude of close calls serve to reflect an undeniable conclusion: his best chances to win the trophy that has most eluded him have now passed.


By JASON SOBEL

I don't think Phil Mickelson is going to win a U.S. Open.

Yes, I realize that in this space just a few days ago, prior to the final round at Merion, I picked Mickelson to win. I thought it was his time. I thought it was destiny. I thought it was going to happen.

It didn't, obviously, and afterward it seemed like he was somewhat resigned to the fact that it never will. 'I think this was my best chance,” he said after a sixth career runner-up finish.

Mickelson will turn 44 the week of next year's U.S. Open. He'll certainly be a viable candidate at Pinehurst, site of the first of those six runners-up, when the tourney returns next year, but keep in mind that only one winner (Hale Irwin in 1990) was older.

It's certainly possible that Mickelson can still reverse the destiny he's found so far, but I'm starting to think his U.S. Open legacy will comparable to that of Greg Norman at the Masters. And I'm starting to think Mickelson is thinking that, too. 


By JAY COFFIN

If the golf gods had a heart, they’d allow Phil Mickelson to win the U.S. Open next year at Pinehurst, the place where he first finished second (1999) in the epic finish against Payne Stewart. Then again, if the golf gods had a heart, Mickelson would already have collected at least one Open crown.

That’s why, sadly, Merion was Lefty’s last chance to win his beloved national championship.

Mickelson has had his chances – six to be precise. He coughed up some, others were taken from him. All were equally devastating. But now, at 43 years old, Father Time is 2 up on Mickelson. He can still win the match, but the odds aren’t in his favor.

The Merion Open produced great theater. Phil haters became Phil lovers because they all realized the importance of this crown to him and his legacy.

It didn’t happen, though. It probably won’t.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.