Phil Mickelson ends links jinx with mesmerising display
Four birdies in the final six holes helps the American win the British Open title by three shots
“I put the rhythm and the mechanics together and hit some great shots,” he said.
When it was all done, and Mickelson celebrated the moment with his family, he found his caddie shedding tears in the locker-room. “He was getting quite choked-up,” said Mickelson, before expanding: “This is really special for both of us. It’s a special moment to be part of the great history of this championship. It’s a great accomplishment for us as a team . . . . This has been the biggest challenge to overcome, [to] capture this trophy.”
Mickelson’s quest to land a Claret Jug had involved painstaking work with Harmon and his short-game guru Dave Pelz to adjust his game to play links. Yesterday the fruits of that labour brought the ultimate prize.
That the win came a month after suffering heartbreak in his own national championship only served to make it all the more fulfilling.
“You have to be resilient in this game because losing is such a big part of it. And, after losing the US Open [at Merion, where Justin Rose won], it could easily have gone south. I was so deflated, I had a hard time coming back . . . I worked a little harder and, in a matter of a month, I’m able to change entirely the way I feel.”
Now Mickelson only requires to win the US Open to complete that career Grand Slam and join an elite club that features Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods. Only!
Ironically, the US Open, the championship, one that is probably the most suited to his game, has proven the hardest to claim. He has been runner-up six times, thwarted time and time again when the grand prize seemed to be his. Next year he will get the chance to make amends when the US Open is staged at Pinehurst No2, the same course where he won his US PGA title in 2005.
“I think that if I’m able to win the US Open and complete the career Grand Slam, I think that that’s the sign of the complete great player. And I’m a leg away. And it’s been a tough leg for me. But I think that’s the sign. I think there’s five players that have done that. And those five players are the greats of the game. You look at them with a different light.
“If I were able to ever win a US Open, and I’m very hopeful that I will, but it has been elusive for me...” said Mickelson, tailing off and perhaps dreaming of where that would leave him in the roll of greatness.
Yesterday there was no doubting. He was great!