Phil Mickelson accepts special exemption to play in 2021 U.S. Open: ‘You can’t win if you don’t play’


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Phil Mickelson has accepted a special exemption from the USGA to play in the 2021 U.S. Open Championship in June in his hometown of San Diego, Calif., giving the quinquagenarian another late-career opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam in an event where he’s been close but thus far unable to get over the hump.

Mickelson has finished as the runner-up in the U.S. Open six times during the course of his career, most in U.S. Open Championship history. He has posted 10 top-10 finishes in 29 appearances. He would have needed to rank in the top 60 of the World Golf Rankings by May 24 or June 7 to qualify for the 2021 U.S. Open without an exemption or to play a sectional qualifier, which was initially part of his schedule before accepting the exemption. He currently ranks 116th.

“Phil Mickelson’s incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game’s history,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome him to this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.”

Mickelson, who will turn 51 years old a day before the start of the tournament on the South Course at Torrey Pines on June 17, is the sixth player since 2010 to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Open. Only one player in U.S. Open history — Hale Irwin in 1990 — has won playing on a special exemption.

“Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” Mickelson said in a release. “You can’t win if you don’t play. I’m honored and appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity and look forward to playing in my hometown on a golf course I grew up on.”

A win at the U.S. Open would give Mickelson his sixth career major championship and enter him into exclusive company of Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, all of whom won each of the four majors during their careers. Mickelson missed the cut at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and finished outside the top 40 each of the previous two years. His most recent runner-up finish came in 2013.





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