So far, Phil Mickelson has avoided disaster at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. “Lefty” held a share of the 36-hole lead and is alone in first after 54 holes. He currently sits at one under par – a shot clear of Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel. There are several other dangerous golfers within a few shots of the lead, waiting to seize their opportunity to be known forever as U.S. Open Champion.
Mickelson has five runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open in his career – more than anyone in the history of golf. He has been so close to holding the coveted trophy that he could almost taste it, only to have the triumph ripped from his fingertips. He needed a par on the 72nd hole of the 2006 Open at Winged Foot but double-bogeyed after hitting a hospitality tent. He also collapsed down the stretch in 2009 at Bethpage Black. Oh yeah, there’s also the infamous three putt from five feet in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills.
It’s not as if he has never been close to pulling out a victory in the national championship of professional golf, but Mickelson has always found a way to throw it away in the home stretch. That has to weigh heavily on his mind heading into the final round of this year’s tournament. He has been so close before but has never managed to hold on.
This has been the one event that Mickelson has coveted. Ever the consummate professional, I don’t anticipate him throwing this one down the drain. He is playing more cerebrally, going so far as to ditch the driver this week in favor of a 64 degree wedge. Mickelson knows what he has to do to hold on for his first U.S. Open victory and I can’t see him trying to force anything on the final day.