PHIL Mickelson’s US PGA Championship win last Sunday did not only make him the oldest Major champion in history. It also made him a must-watch at the US Open next month.
Mickelson etched his name in the history books with the two-shot win over his American compatriot Brooks Koepka and South African Louis Oosthuizen at Kiawah Island as his won in the month before his 51st birthday.
And now, as the men’s game makes its way to the 121st US Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego, California the question is: “Will Mickelson achieve the career Grand Slam?”
He has 45 PGA Tour wins to his credit, six of them Majors – three Masters (2004,2006,2010), two PGA Championships (2005,2021) and a British Open (2013). And in the one Major that still eludes him, Mickelson finished runner-up six times (1999,2002,2004,2006,2009 and 2013).
If he is as fit as he was last week and in the same frame of mind, this might well be Michelson’s best chance of landing the US Open – in his backyard and with the fans on his side.
He obviously will not get to match Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus, who hold the record for the most US Open wins, with four each. But how dearly would he love to win just one.
For the record, the oldest winner of the US Open is Hale Irwin, who managed it in 1990 at the age of 45 years and 15 days. The youngest is John McDermott – 19 years, 10 months in 1911.
But even if Mickelson is in good nick, one gets the feeling that he will not have it as good at Torrey Pines as he did at Kiawah Island.
World number one Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia, for starters, did not make the weekend at the PGA Championship, while the likes of Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar and host of others will be just as keen on landing a maiden Major of their own.
One expects Koepka to have recovered further from his knee surgery to put on a more solid showing next month, as too will Oosthuizen be hoping to improve on his five runner-up spots in Majors and add to his only Grand Slam win, the 2010 British Open.
But before we get to Torrey Pines, the US Women’s Open, conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA), will be staged on the Lake Course of Olympic Club in San Francisco, California.
Kim A-lim will defend her title in the third Major of the LPGA Tour’s season. And it looks likely that South Korea will add to their list of winners in the event.
The dominant Koreans have won seven of the last 10 US Women’s Open titles and with the world’s top-three – Jin Young Ko, In Bee Park, Sei Young Kim (in that order) – in the field this week, the trend looks set to will continue.
The best American hope is number four ranked Nelly Korda and from the rest of the world, Canada’s Brooke Henderson.
It does not appear that we will get a winner from here to eclipse Mickelson’s achievement of last week, but perhaps there might be an equal measure of excitement.