Phil Mickelson closed out a disappointing 30th appearance at the US Open before showering praise on the USGA, describing the set-up at Torrey Pines as “the best I’ve ever seen”.
Mickelson went into his national championship with renewed confidence that he could complete a career Grand Slam of majors following his historic victory at last month’s PGA Championship.
But despite enjoying fervent support from his home fans, the San Diego native was unable to find the same kind of form that swept him to the title at Kiawah Island, a final-round 75 leaving him among the also-rans on 11 over par.
The 51-year-old was understandably frustrated at not being able to force his way into contention, but he was not blaming the set-up over the South Course for his performance.
“I’m disappointed I didn’t play better, but I’m very surprised that, in the 30 years that I’ve played the US Open, this is the best I’ve seen,” said the six-time runner-up. “I thought they did a remarkable job, and I’m really proud and happy that it’s here at Torrey.
“The set-up is the best I’ve ever seen, and what they did really well is they made some of the hard holes harder, like 11 and 12, and they made some of the easy holes, like two, easier so you can make birdies.
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“That type of set-up allows the players who are playing well to make up ground or separate themselves from the field. They just did such a great job here. I’m very impressed.
“I think this course here has been a great site, and the length and the overall difficulty in general and the great weather allowed them to do whatever they wanted to to showcase this tournament, and they’ve done a great job.”
Mickelson also dismissed suggestions he would focus more on the PGA Tour Champions, steadfastly believing he still has what it takes to compete on the main Tours, and he remains confident of adding to his tally of six major titles.
“There are some opportunities coming up with the way I’ve been playing that I’m optimistic that I can compete and contend,” he added. “There’s nothing more fun for me than to be in it on the weekend.
“I’ve actually been playing well enough to have chances, and we have some good tournaments coming up the next couple of months, and I’ll look back and reminisce when the season’s over and I have some time in the off-season to not need to work on my game.
“And I’ll still have that Wanamaker trophy I’ll be looking at, and I’m still looking to add a friend to it along the line.
“That win was very meaningful to me because I’ve been putting in a lot of work the last couple years and getting nothing out of it, and so to have a moment like that is something that makes it worthwhile.”
US Open Golf
June 21, 2021, 8:00pm
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