Just one day after celebrating his 51st birthday, American golfer Phil Mickelson will be teeing off at the 2021 United States Open Championship, which itself will be the 121st edition of the iconic tournament. Taking place in his hometown of San Diego, California, at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the quinquagenarian has been presented with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
Due to be held between 17 and 20 June, the latest US Open golf betting with Betfair already has Mickelson listed at 150/1 longshot odds, making him a speculative pitch to finally win the only major tournament that eludes him. Mickelson has won the Masters Tournament three times, plus the PGA Championship and the British Open Championship once apiece.
However, when it comes to winning the US Open, the tournament has always been just beyond the reach of Mickelson, despite making 29 appearances at the event since 1990. He twice participated as an amateur in 1990 and 1991, before turning professional in 1992. Since then, Mickelson has finished second on the leaderboard a remarkable six times.
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) May 14, 2021
Thanks to the special exemption granted by the USGA, who are responsible for managing and organizing the US Open, Mickelson will not have to meet the usual criteria for entry. Currently positioned at 116th in the world rankings, Mickelson was due to participate in a qualifying tournament in Columbus, Ohio, in order to earn his entry to the US Open.
In an official announcement via the USGA, the organization broke the news that Mickelson had been offered a special exemption, which he had gratefully accepted. “Phil Mickelson’s incredible USGA Playing record and over all career achievements are amongst the most noteworthy in the game’s history,” explained USGA CEO Mike Davis.
“You can’t win if you don’t play,” said Mickelson, “honored and appreciative” of the opportunity to compete at the famous tournament again. “Winning the US Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” he pointed out with great enthusiasm, delighted to play at the Torrey Pines venue.
Having won all three of the other major tournaments at least once, Mickelson only needs the US Open to complete the career Grand Slam of golf, with only five players having ever achieved that feat. Four were fellow Americans, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. The one exception was Gary Player of South Africa.
Nevertheless, at this late stage of his career for Mickelson, winning the US Open will be a monumental challenge. The focus of attention in many free golf tips, the 2021 tournament favorites include 2016 winner Dustin Johnson, along with back-to-back 2017 and 2018 winner Brooks Koepka. Reigning 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau will also be eager to defend his title.
Although this could be somewhat of a last hurrah for Mickelson, he will undoubtedly be taking his opportunity seriously, keen to turn back the clock and rediscover some of his best golf. One big advantage will be playing at his home course in San Diego, with the Torrey Pines venue one he knows intimately. Fans will certainly be cheering Mickelson, as he continues to write another chapter in what has been an exceptional career.