Golf-Mickelson accepts special exemption to play in U.S. Open

FILE PHOTO: May 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Phil Mickelson during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson said on Friday he accepted a special exemption from the United States Golf Association (USGA) to play in next month's U.S. Open, the only major tournament he has not won.

Mickelson, a runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times, will be making his 30th appearance in the national championship which this year will be played June 17-20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.

"Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I've come close so many times," said Mickelson, a San Diego native. "You can't win if you don’t play. I’m honoured and appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity and look forward to playing in my hometown on a golf course I grew up on."

The 50-year-old Mickelson, who has ten top-10 U.S. Open finishes, was the first-round leader last week at Quail Hollow but ultimately fell apart an finished in 69th place.

Mickelson counts five major championships among his 44 wins on the PGA Tour and is trying to become only the sixth man to complete the career grand slam by winning each of golf's four majors.

"Phil Mickelson's incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game’s history," said USGA Chief Executive Mike Davis. "We are thrilled to welcome him to this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines."

Hale Irwin is the only player to win the U.S. Open playing on a special exemption, doing so in a 19-hole playoff over Mike Donald in 1990 at Medinah.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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