Leading up to the U.S. Open, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Olympic Club. We wrap up with a guy who wants this so, so badly, but can't quite bring it home...
His 2012 so far: He's got one win in the bag (the Pebble Beach Pro-Am) and two more top-three finishes. He was so close at Augusta, but one bad hole took him down. Still, he sits eighth on the money list and seventh in FedEx Cup points, so you've got to say this is a fairly decent year for Lefty.
His record at the U.S. Open: Heartbreaking. You've got the 1999 loss to Payne Stewart, the 2006 debacle at Winged Foot, the 2008 Torrey Pines hometown meltdown, the close-but-not-quite 2009 at Bethpage ... oh, it's a litany of Open pain for Phil. He was the low amateur in both 1990 and 1991. Since then, he's played in 19 Opens and placed in the top 10 in nine of them, including five second-place finishes.
Why he could win: Because nobody's paying attention to him right now. It seriously is like clockwork; when people are focused on Phil, he wilts. When the spotlight is elsewhere (like, say, Tiger/Bubba/Rory), he excels. Besides that, he's got the necessary short game and putting stroke to keep himself in the hunt this year.
Why he could fall short: See above. For whatever reason, Phil and the spotlight don't get along too well. If he sneaks up on a win, like by coming from behind on Sunday, it could happen, but if he has a strong lead heading into the final round, look out. Plus, the U.S. Open is the least forgiving of the majors, and Mickelson has a tendency to, shall we say, visit all sections of the course during a given round.
Our take: Another strong week that won't end in a win. Mickelson has so much going for him, but the U.S. Open continues to bedevil him. It takes nothing from his exceptional career, but it'll be an ever-present thorn until he's able to close it out. Could this be the year? Our guess is no.
And you? What are your thoughts on Phil's chances this week at The Olympic Club?