Phil Mickelson doesn’t want any special treatment when it comes to getting into this year’s U.S. Open.
Mickelson, who will turn 50 two days before play starts at Winged Foot in mid-June, is adamant that he is not interested in receiving a special exemption into the event.
“I won’t accept it,” Mickelson told reporters on Wednesday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.”
The remarks were intriguing with Mickelson having fallen out of the top 50 late last year for the first time in 26 years. He currently stands at No. 72 in the world after finishing in a tie for third at the Saudi International last weekend.
Mickelson has until April 22 to apply to the USGA for a special exemption.
If Mickelson is in the top 60 on May 18, one day after the conclusion of the PGA Championship, he will be part of the U.S. Open field. Mickelson could earn a spot by winning The Players Championship, the Masters or the PGA Championship.
But if he doesn’t earn a spot, the special exemption would certainly come in handy.
“I don’t want a special exemption,” Mickelson said. “I think I’ll get in the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t. I don’t want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.”
Asked if whether it would truly feel like a sympathy spot as opposed to a reward for his six U.S. Open second-place finishes, Mickelson indicated he doesn’t see it as a prize.
“I see it as the former, and I don’t want that,” he said.
Another option for Mickelson would be participating in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier.
The U.S. Open is the lone major Mickelson has never won. One of the close calls came at Winged Foot in 2006, when he held a one-shot lead entering the final hole at the New York course and shot double-bogey to lose by one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy.
Among golfers to receive exemptions to the U.S. Open in the past include Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Ernie Els.
—Field Level Media