Could Phil Mickelson's Back Problems Hinder His Quest For The U.S. Open?

By Brandon Raper
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Phil Mickelson‘s homecoming weeks haven’t always been the best of times in recent years. In his last two trips to Torrey Pines, Mickelson missed the cut in 2012 and finished outside the top 50 in 2013. He did finish in second place at the Farmers Insurance Open back in 2011, but at best it’s been a mixed bag of results. You have to go all the way back to 2001 for his last win at this course.

Because of that, it wasn’t too surprising that Lefty shot a decent enough round of 69 on the North Course in Thursday’s opening round, but if you watched, it was obvious that he was having some back issues as early as the midway point of the day. Friday, his troubles continued and he fired a one-over round of 73, leaving him eight shots back of 36-hole leader Jordan Spieth.

Mickelson had already acknowledged that he may not be able to finish the tournament, and he’s clearly made this decision with the bigger picture in mind. A fierce competitor, he’s famous for big-money games in practice rounds with friends like Keegan Bradley just because he wants to have something on the line. But there’s no secret that Mickelson has his sights set squarely on June.

The elusive U.S. Open title is pretty much all that matters to Mickelson this year. While he’s dealt with injuries throughout his career and has always turned up for the big events, you have to wonder if this is the type of thing that could linger throughout the year.

The only major missing from Mickelson’s resume is still nearly five months away, but there’s plenty of golf to be played between now and then. With the FedEx Cup to consider as well, I don’t think we’ll see him take too much time away from the Tour unless he legitimately can’t play, but he could face some tough choices between playing for this year or playing for that one tournament that has famously eluded him for so long.

Earlier this week, Mickelson said that he still believes that not only will he eventually take down the U.S. Open, but that he’ll “win a couple”. You’ve got to love that kind of confidence. One thing is for sure, it’s always more entertaining when Phil is on the course, so hopefully he comes back quickly.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and join him on Google+.

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