First alternate Diaz waiting on Phil, anyone else


ERIN, Wis. – “Think he can make it?” Roberto Diaz asked on his way to the first tee on Tuesday at Erin Hills.

It’s this week’s million dollar question, will Phil Mickelson - who announced last week he would be attending his daughter’s graduation on Thursday in Southern California and would likely not play the U.S. Open - be able to make it to Erin Hills on time if there is some sort of delay.

Mickelson is scheduled to tee off for Round 1 at 2:20 p.m. (CT) and the graduation ceremony is at 10 a.m. (PT). The flight to Wisconsin would take about 3 1/2 hours, so there would need to be some sort of weather delay, Mickelson estimated it would need to be about four hours, for him to make it in time. So Diaz will spend the next few days waiting and wondering.

Diaz is the first alternate from the Summit, N.J., sectional qualifier and is now the next man up at Erin Hills.

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“[Mickelson] can still register before his tee time, so if everything goes according to schedule [a delay of some sort] he will still be able to get in before his tee time,” Diaz said. “I’m just waiting to see what happens.”

Although the focus has been on Mickelson and any possible weather delay, there’s currently a 20 percent chance of showers on Thursday, Diaz plans to be at the course at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday in case someone else can’t play.

“I’m not waiting on Phil, I’m just waiting on someone to withdraw,” he said.

Diaz missed the cut at the Tour event outside of Chicago last week, the Rust-Oleum Championship, and decided to drive up to Erin Hills just in case. He played nine holes on Monday and planned to add another nine on Tuesday so he will be prepared in case Mickelson, or anyone else, withdraws.

As Diaz figured, “It is Phil.”