Mickelson has career Grand Slam on his mind as US Open looms

US player believes playing in FedEx St Jude Classic is ideal preparation for Shinnecock

 Phil Mickelson: “It is the best set-up I’ve seen for a US Open as long as I’ve played.” Photograph:   Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson: “It is the best set-up I’ve seen for a US Open as long as I’ve played.” Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Phil Mickelson believes contending in the FedEx St Jude Classic will be the ideal preparation for his bid to make history at Shinnecock Hills next week.

Mickelson has been runner-up a record six times in the US Open, the tournament he needs to win to complete a career Grand Slam, including when Shinnecock last hosted the championship in 2004.

But while many of the world’s top players have chosen to practice or taken a week off ahead of the year’s second Major, Mickelson will be among the field at TPC Southwind along with US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger, who is seeking a third straight victory in Memphis.

“I feel the best way for me to prepare for the US Open is to get in contention and get sharp mentally and with my game,” Mickelson told reporters in an interview broadcast on the PGA Tour’s Twitter account. “That’s what playing here in Memphis does.

“This is a course where precision is the key factor. It doesn’t beat you up with length, you’ve got to be precise with every shot, and that’s where it really benefits my play next week in the Open.

“Some people feel like if they win they’ve expended too much energy and they don’t carry it over. But for me I’ve actually won two of my five Majors [after] winning the week before, and I think it would be momentum I would carry over into the Open, and that’s why I would love to play well, and hopefully come out on top.”

Tough conditions

Mickelson was one of just two players to finish under par at Shinnecock in 2004, when tough conditions meant play had to be halted during the final round so that the green on the par-three seventh could be watered.

Last week the 47-year-old said the seventh is a “great hole until the USGA gets a hold of it”, but he also praised the renovation work undertaken at the venue by former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.

“It is the best set-up I’ve seen for a US Open as long as I’ve played,” Mickelson added. “I think it’s the fairest test where skill is going to be the biggest factor. I think you’re going to see an exceptional leaderboard.

“Shinnecock is one of the greatest courses of all time, and to have undergone the renovation it did with Crenshaw and Coore is exceptional. It’s going to be one of the best Opens, I believe.

“I spent the last few days there and some time there a week ago. and I feel like all areas of your game are going to be tested and skill is going to be a huge factor, especially chipping and putting around the greens.

“It’s very challenging but very fair. It’s not hack-it-out rough, it’s fairway height but the greens are so difficult it’s hard to get the ball close. I love the challenge.”

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