Lefty's title bid stands out at Pinehurst U.S. Open

Thu Jun 5, 2014 2:51pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Of all the storylines swirling ahead of next week's U.S. Open, where Tiger Woods is a notable absentee as he recovers from back surgery, none is more compelling than Phil Mickelson's bid to win the tournament for the first time.

Mickelson has been a runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times, most recently last year when he finished two shots behind England's Justin Rose at Merion, and he is yearning for the chance to complete a career grand slam of the four majors.

Eleven months ago, the American clinched the one major which he had always felt was the most difficult for him to win, the British Open, with a brilliant closing round of 66 at Muirfield and his sights are now set firmly set on Pinehurst next week.

"There's such a difference in the way I view the few major champions that have won all four," left-hander Mickelson, 43, said while preparing for the U.S. Open, which will be played from June 12-15 at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

"And I'm fortunate and I'm honored to be part of that long list of great players that have won three of the four.

"That's great. But I would look at my career, which is all I care about, in a whole different light if I were able to get that fourth one."

Mickelson, who finished second on Pinehurst's fabled No. 2 Course when the U.S. Open was first held there in 1999, has always been brutally honest about the heartache he has suffered following his multiple near-misses at the event.

"If you try to deny it and try to act like it doesn't hurt and that it's no big deal, well, you're just lying to yourself," he said. "I had such a down moment after losing at Merion. It stung, and you just do what you have to get over it.   Continued...

May 31, 2014; Dublin, OH, USA; Phil Mickelson tees off at the first hole during the third round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports