British style U.S. Open may give Mickelson an edge

Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:40pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is racing against father time as much as his competitors as he tries to complete a career grand slam of the four majors by winning the U.S. Open.

Mickelson, who has been runner-up in his national championship a record six times, will celebrate his 45th birthday on Tuesday, just two days before the opening round of the 115th U.S. Open, being played at Chambers Bay in Washington.

Should he go on to claim the title in the Pacific Northwest, he would become only the sixth player to win all four modern majors.

Mickelson would also become the second oldest U.S. Open champion behind fellow American Hale Irwin, who was also 45 when he beat Mike Donald at the 19th extra hole in a playoff for the 1990 title at Medinah.

Records are there to be broken but there is a reason why Irwin's mark has stood for more than two decades. Experience may offer middle-aged players an edge in course management, but there is generally no substitute for the athleticism of youth.

This year's U.S. Open, however, just might be different, due to the many nuances of a links-style Chambers Bay layout that takes time to learn.

Mickelson has already done his reconnaissance at the venue, which may give him an edge over late arrivals for the tournament -- if widespread reports about the course's many subtleties are to be believed.

The left-hander says Chambers Bay, adjacent to Puget Sound, is as close to a British Open links course as you will ever find in North America and he likens it to St. Andrews, a layout that has baffled many a first-timer.   Continued...

May 7, 2015; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the first hole during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports