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?


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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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Davies leads Inkster after Day 1 of Senior LPGA Champ.

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2018, 1:10 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies opened with a 4-under 68 despite finishing with two bogeys Monday, giving her a one-shot lead over Juli Inkster after Round 1 of the Senior LPGA Championship.

Davies, who earlier this year won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, had a lost ball on the par-5 18th hole on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. She still salvaged a bogey in chilly, windy weather that had the 55-year-old from England bundled up in a blanket between shots.

Inkster, runner-up to Davies at the Senior Women's Open, made eagle on the closing hole for a 69.

Jane Crafter was at 70. Defending champion Trish Johnson opened with a 73.

Temperatures were in the high 40s, but the damp air and wind made it feel even colder.

Inkster made a bogey on the 17th hole by missing the green with a 9-iron.

''As old as I am, I still get made and I crushed that drive on 18,'' said Inkster, who followed with a 3-wood to 15 feet to set up her eagle.

The 54-hole event concludes Wednesday.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.