DUBLIN, OHIO – Eighteen years after Phil Mickelson said he might have missed a potential U.S. Open playoff to be with his wife, Amy, for the birth of their first child, Amanda, Mickelson expects to miss this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills to attend her high school graduation.
Mickelson confirmed Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate playing this year in the only professional major championship he has not won. He informed USGA officials of his plans, though he will not officially withdraw until closer to the start of the first round in case circumstances change.
Bad weather, which could delay the start of the tournament, is the only realistic possibility that could allow Mickelson to be at Erin Hills in time for his first round tee time. Mickelson said his name will be included in tee times released in advance of the championship but USGA officials will be prepared to replace him.
Amanda Mickelson will graduate Thursday, June 15 at 10 a.m. PDT from Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif., the day the U.S. Open will begin outside Milwaukee. She is also the class president and will give the commencement address.
After considering his options, Mickelson decided to bypass the U.S. Open, in which he has finished second or tied for second a record six times.
“I mean obviously it’s a tournament that I want to win the most, and it’s a tournament — the only way to win is if you play and have a chance,” Mickelson said Saturday. “But this is one of those moments where you look back on life and you just don’t want to miss it. I’ll be really glad that I was there and present.”
Mickelson said he realized the scheduling issue six months ago and hoped something might change to allow him to play. It’s why Mickelson added the Dean & Deluca Invitational to his schedule last month, an event he typically does not play.
Under the rules, Mickelson can wait until minutes before his scheduled tee time to withdraw.
“There’s just really no way to make it, no matter what the tee time is,” Mickelson said.
He said he did not ask the school to reschedule the graduation on his behalf.
In 1999, Mickelson was runner-up to Payne Stewart at Pinehurst while awaiting Amanda’s birth. He played that week with a beeper in his golf bag and said he would have left immediately had his wife gone into labor in California, even if it meant missing a Monday playoff. That was averted when Stewart holed a par putt on the 72nd hole to beat Mickelson by one stroke.
This year, Mickelson said he will watch the U.S. Open on television after watching his daughter deliver the commencement address.
“She’s always been, ‘Dad, I know you love the Open.’ She’s always been very supportive. But it’s one of those things that you just show up. You just need to be there. It wasn’t really something that we discussed, because it really wasn’t much of a decision,” Mickelson said.
In a statement Saturday, USGA executive director Mike Davis said, “Phil called on Saturday to let me know that, because of the timing of his daughter’s high school graduation, he would likely not be able to play the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. We applaud and appreciate the fact that he is being pro-active so that the USGA can make any appropriate adjustments should he not be able to play. We certainly understand and support that Phil’s family commitments are of paramount importance and hope that the timing will work in his favor.”
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