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Mickelson vows to take Open one step at a time


June 11. 2018 8:33PM
Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn., last week. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo)

The one thing that would make Phil Mickelson’s career complete is the last thing he wants to contemplate at the moment. In his 26 tries at the one major championship that has eluded him, he has learned that you can’t win the U.S. Open on Monday, or Thursday for that matter.

“The last thing I’m thinking about right now is trying to win,” he said at Shinnecock Hills on Monday afternoon during his pre-Open news conference. “I’m trying to get myself in position for the weekend. When you try to go out and win a U.S. Open you will lose it quick. So, I’m trying to just position myself these first couple of days, get through the first challenge of Thursday and Friday and have a chance on the weekend because a lot happens on the weekend.”

For Mickelson, what has happened on the weekend at U.S. Opens mostly is disappointment. Six times, he has finished second in the tournament he needs to finish the career Grand Slam. One of those occurred at Shinnecock in 2004, when he lost his bid with a double bogey on the par-3 17th in the final round.

“I use those disappointments as learning opportunities,” he said, adding that, for instance, he plans to be less aggressive on the par-5 16th hole at Shinnecock Hills this year.

Having also finished among the top 5 at this site in 1995, he did say it is one of his favorite Open venues and that the current setup is the best he has seen. “The reason I say it is that all areas of your game are tested,” he said. “There are some birdie holes, some really hard pars, some fairways that are tough to hit, some fairways that are easy to hit. The chipping and short game around the greens are going to be a huge factor this week.”

He also hopes to be a huge factor by the weekend. As for what the week and this tournament mean for his legacy, he said, “It’s too early to reflect. I’m still in the process of collecting more wins.”


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