Phil Mickelson said last year after the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach that he’s come to grips with the fact that he’ll probably never win the major after finishing as a runner-up six times. It is now becoming a reality that he may never play in one again.
Lefty is not currently exempt for the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot (site of one of his six runner-up finishes), and as the 72nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings, he has work to do to get into the top 60, which are the golfers who qualify for Winged Foot over two different weeks in the lead in to the third major of 2020.
Otherwise? He’ll have to qualify at sectionals like other pros (most of whom don’t have five majors to their name).
Of course, the USGA could give him a special exemption to get into the field. They’ve done so several times over the last decade. Ernie Els got two, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen have each received one. Those golfers are former U.S. Open winners, but with Mickelson’s history (specifically at Winged Foot), the USGA would probably oblige.
Either way, it won’t matter.
“I won’t accept it,” Mickelson said on Wednesday at Pebble Beach, site of his last PGA Tour win. “So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.”
“They have never been an organization that likes to give out exemptions, special exemptions,” he added. “I don’t want a special exemption. I think I’ll get in the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t. I don’t want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.”
All of this is probably a non-starter anyway. Mickelson doesn’t have a top-25 finish at the U.S. Open since finishing T2 at Merion in 2013. He’s not likely to win at the age of 50 at a place like Winged Foot, but his appearance (or non-appearance) is certainly going to be a big storyline over the next five months.
His appearance at the U.S. Senior Open, on the other hand, will not.