Phil Mickelson needs to change his U.S. Open game plan

At 41 years old, Phil Mickelson's window for winning a U.S. Open is growing smaller with every passing year. That's not to say Phil won't ever hoist the trophy, but every time he fans a 2-iron or misses a key putt in the final round, you start to wonder if he'll ever be able to capture the one major championship that's always been at the top of his wish list.

Let's just say the golf gods haven't been kind to Mickelson at the National Open. With a record five runner-up finishes, he's been oh-so-close. But every time he gets close, he manages to self destruct on Sunday. It's gotten to that point that you almost expect a gut-wrenching moment when he shows up for the second major of the year.

After all the pain he's gone through, maybe we should be relieved that Mickelson didn't even wait until Sunday afternoon this time around to knock himself out of contention, as he fired a back nine 42 that crushed his U.S. Open dreams on Saturday.

Mickelson started his first round hitting the ball all over the map, and he finished his third round doing the exact same thing, missing fairways and greens with relative ease. The funny thing is, we've come to expect this sort of reckless abandon from Mickelson over his career in the U.S. Open.

But somehow he's always found a way to hack it out of the rough, hit an improbable shot, and stay in contention. However, after watching Mickelson struggle with his game this week, maybe it's time for him to consider keeping it simple at the U.S. Open. If you go back in the annals of history, you'll notice it was a driver off the tee on the 72nd hole, or a risky play from the rough that doomed his chances.

It's not in his golf DNA, but maybe he should consider pressing less. This major requires precision off the tee and patience, two things he's never had in his bag. But in the waning years of his PGA Tour career, this may be the time to change if he wants to win the one major that's eluded him.

Even players like Mickelson can change. I'm not saying he has to change his entire game, but maybe it's time to alter things for one week out of the year. If he can take two drivers to Augusta, he can let off the gas. Fairways and green can get it done, Phil. Just look at Rory McIlroy.

Lefty has and always will continue to play with a reckless abandon, but if he's ever going to realize his dream of capturing a U.S. Open, he's going to need to seriously consider changing his game plan the next time around.

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