MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE | Phil Mickelson knows what he and everyone else is getting at the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
“I really think it’s the hardest course we’ve ever played,” Mickelson said after spending two days doing prep work at Oakmont.
“They don’t know what the weather is going to be next week, if it’s going to be dry or if it’s going to be wet. So what they do is they let the rough grow long, and if it is wet they’ll leave it like that, and if it’s dry they’ll thin it out. But it’s a very fair test, even though it’s hard.
“But a lot of golf courses when it challenges you tee to green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens, and you really don’t at Oakmont.”
With a record six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open, Mickelson is still chasing the one trophy that would complete the career Grand Slam for him. He’s encouraged by the results he’s seen in his long game since going to work with instructor Andrew Getson and feels good about his chances at Oakmont.
“The reason why I’m optimistic about Oakmont is that it doesn’t require me to hit a lot of drivers. It requires me to get the ball in play off the tee, but when I’m not hitting drivers, if I’m hitting 3-woods, hybrids, I feel confident I’m able to do that a fairly high percentage of the time,” Mickelson said.
“One of the strengths of my game over the last decade or so that’s really helped me win the tournaments I’ve won is lag putting, so if I have a good week lag putting where I’m able to have easy pars from anywhere on the green, that’s going to lead to a good week. That’s why I’m optimistic. However, it’s a U.S. Open and you get on a bad streak and you start missing fairways there, which isn’t exactly uncommon in my game, it is difficult.”
Steve Stricker is on the back end of his PGA Tour career, picking his spots to play these days, hosting a PGA Tour Champions event in Wisconsin later this month and serving as an assistant to Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III.
Prior to the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Stricker reminisced about his first professional victory.
“My first pro tournament was up in Canada on the Canadian Tour, the Payless/Pepsi Open, which fortunately I ended up winning in a playoff over Todd Hamilton, so that was my first pro event in 1990. So I think about that quite a bit,” Stricker said. ….. READ FULL MEN’S PRO NOTEBOOK