Here is your preview for the 2014 U.S. Open:
Seriously, is there any other story that comes even close to Phil’s bid to win the Open, and to capture the Career Grand Slam?
Okay, this is Johnny Miller’s final U.S. Open (we think) because Fox will take over broadcasting it next year. And then there is Pinehurst #2. At the U.S. Open, the course always plays a starring role, and the super long #2 is no exception. At 7,562, it will be playing about 350 yards longer than in 2005. Pinehurst is also famous for its saucer like greens that repel well hit shots that hit the sides of the putting surfaces – in effect it has false fronts, false sides, and false backs!
Now, back to Phil. As you all no doubt know, he finished second here to Payne Stewart in 1999, but was consoled by the birth of his first child the next day. Fast forward to 2013 and Mickelson notched his sixth runnerup finish in the US Open at Merion. A month later he pulled himself together to win the Open, the third leg of the Slam, and the one most figured he’d never win.
Mickelson is five days shy of his 44th birthday, so he is, essentially, 44 – and players at this age seldom win majors, much less the U.S. Open, the most demanding of the four. Mickelson seems to be feeling his age on the course as well, as the best he has managed are a pair of ties for eleventh on the PGA Tour after opening the season with a 2t Abu Dhabi.
To make matters worse, Mickelson just adopted the claw grip in an attempt to cure his problems on the greens. This smacks of desperation and a lack of confidence – just at a time when he needs all facets of his game to reach a peak.
I do not expect big things from Mickelson this week, nor do the oddsmakers at Ladbrokes, who have him at 16-1. But then again, they don’t like anyone that much as they have installed Rory McIlroy as the favorite at 12-1.
Every Open is special, and this one more than most as it gives every appearance of being Mickelson’s last shot at the Slam. He looks like he is anything but ready, but he has surprised us before – and there is scarcely a person in golf who would not love to see him beat the odds and time, and join golf’s most elite club.