Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Shane Bacon and national columnist Jay Busbee take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by hitting us on Twitter at@shanebacon and @jaybusbee. Today we talk about Phil Mickelson's chances of actually winning the U.S. Open before his career ends.
Busbee: Sixth verse, same as the first. Just last night, we were reminded of Phil Mickelson's eternal torment in the U.S. Open--six runner-up finishes, more than anyone else in the entirety of human history--and we've got to wonder: is there any chance this guy's ever going to win one?
Bacon: There are plenty of factors that are working against Phil's bid to win this tournament that obviously doesn't want any part of his name on the trophy. First, it's that jerk Father Time. The oldest winner of the U.S. Open was Hale Irwin at 45, and Phil just turned 43 so it isn't like he has a ton of chances left to snag the toughest tournament in the world. Sure, he's put himself in position at times, but it seems like anytime he's there he falls apart down the stretch and allows someone else to lift the trophy. That said, he does have some favorable venues in the near future. Pinehurst is the site of the U.S. Open next year, a place he nearly won at in 1999. Is that his best shot?
Busbee: Pinehurst is well set up for him. But you know what's in 2018? Shinnecock! How would that be for a redemption story, huh? In all seriousness, you're right...not only is this a young man's tournament, the one time in the foreseeable future it wasn't was this year. Why do you think it is that Phil just falls so short? Nerves, or fate?
Bacon: I just think it's a combination of the nerves of Phil and the absolute relentlessness of these Open courses. None of these closing stretches are giving away any easy birdies and Phil has just either blown the lead on the way in or the course got the best of him (like at Shinnecock).
Do you honestly think he will ever win this tournament?
Busbee: I don't. Not at this point. To me, he's all but completely passed the point where he can control a tournament, so if he's going to win one, it'll have to be from someone else's collapse. He's owed that, certainly, and it wouldn't diminish the achievement, but Phil may have to be content gunning for majors at the other three courses.
My last question, and get metaphysical if you want: does golf need Phil to keep losing? Does it keep things right in the universe?
Bacon: It's a good question and I hate to say yes but I think that's the only answer. Phil will always be our lovable loser and it just makes sense with him as that. I want to see him win this tournament but like you, just think his chances are all but gone.
All right, your turn. Do you think Phil will ever win the U.S. Open, or is he doomed to life as a bridesmaid?
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