MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Phil Mickelson’s penchant for the U.S. Open is well documented, from his six runner-up showings at his national championship to the hole it has left in his resume in his quest to complete the career Grand Slam.
It’s also the one tournament, arguably after the Masters, which seems to motivate Lefty the most. This year’s U.S. Open appears to be no different.
“The reason why I'm optimistic about Oakmont is that it doesn't require me to hit a lot of drivers,” said Mickelson, who spent Monday and Tuesday playing Oakmont to prepare for next week’s championship. “It requires me to get the ball in play off the tee, but when I'm not hitting drivers, if I'm hitting 3-woods, hybrids, I feel confident I'm able to do that a fairly high percentage of the time.”
Mickelson did concede that when you start missing fairways at a course like Oakmont – “Which isn't exactly uncommon in my game,” – things can get difficult quickly.
After two days scouting the Pittsburgh-area layout Mickelson echoed a common theme from those who have played the course, stressing its difficulty from tee to green with little let-up.
“I really think it is the hardest golf course we've ever played,” Mickelson said on Wednesday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. “A lot of golf courses, when it challenges you tee to green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens, and you really don't at Oakmont.”
Mickelson has competed in two U.S. Opens at Oakmont, missing the cut in 2007 and finishing tied 47th in 1994.