U.S. Open chances: Can Phil Mickelson finally close the deal?

This week before the U.S. Open tees off, we'll be sizing up the chances of many of golf's top players. We continue with the guy who'll be drawing the eyes of the golf world no matter what he does this week.

Phil Mickelson

Current world ranking: 5

So far this year: So far, so good. Phil has one win, at the Shell Houston Open, and hasn't missed any cuts to this point. He currently sits in the top 10 on the money list and fifth in the FedEx Cup rankings. At the Masters, he never really got going, and ended up in a tie for 27th.

Record at the U.S. Open: Oh, so very, very close. Mickelson has five second-place finishes at the Open, three of those solo second-place spots. Overall, he's played in 20 Opens and posted nine top-10 finishes. He was the low amateur the first two times he played, in 1990 and 1991. But this is the trophy he now wants more than any other.

Why he could win: He's crafty, and he's been in this position before. He knows what it's like to get so very, very close, and so the usual tension that sends players collapsing into jelly on Sunday will, in theory, not affect him quite as much. Plus, if he gets hot with the putter, very good things can happen.

Why he could fall short:To get hot with the putter, he first needs to reach the green, and Mickelson has a tendency to wander far afield off the tee. Of all the tournaments on the slate, the U.S. Open is the one you most definitely don't want to do that. Mickelson loves his recovery shots, but expecting to recover from disastrous choices into U.S. Open-level rough may be asking a bit too much.

Our take: He'll be close, very close, but a couple of bad choices at the wrong times will once again doom Mickelson. The rest of the field has caught up to him, with many passing him by, and this will go down as another year where Mickelson doesn't quite bring it home.

Your turn, folks. Will Mickelson finally bring it home this year, or will he once again be on the outside looking in?

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