Mickelson makes poignant U.S. Open return to Pinehurst

Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:55pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Returning to Pinehurst's No. 2 Course for this week's U.S. Open could hardly be more poignant for Phil Mickelson who was a runner-up when the year's second major was first played at Pinehurst in 1999.

Not only has the American left-hander gone on to finish second in the tournament a further five times, he has yet to win his national championship, leaving him one shy in his long cherished bid to complete a rare grand slam of the four majors.

"It's a career goal of mine to win all four majors," Mickelson, 43, said in a crammed media center interview room at Pinehurst Resort on Tuesday.

"I feel like the five players that have done that have separated themselves from the other players throughout all time."

The only players to have clinched all four of golf's professional majors are Americans Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, and South African Gary Player.

"It shows that they have a complete game," said Mickelson. "If I'm able to do that, I feel that I would look upon my own career differently. That's why it would mean so much, in addition to the fact it's our national championship.

"Growing up here in the United States, this is a tournament that I've always felt this patriotism for and would love to win, plus with all the close calls (his record six runner-up spots)."

Mickelson's most recent close call at a U.S. Open came at Merion last year when he tied for second, two shots behind England's Justin Rose, but his first near miss, at Pinehurst in 1999, was certainly the most emotional.   Continued...

Jun 10, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA; Phil Mickelson tees off on the 8th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports