ERIN, Wis. – Bad news for Phil Mickelson without even being at Erin Hills: The forecast calls for a reasonable chance of storms for all but one day this week — Thursday, when he will be in California for his daughter's high school graduation.
Mickelson has yet to withdraw, saying he will need a four-hour delay in the first round of the U.S. Open to have any chance of flying to Wisconsin (more than three hours in the air) and getting to the first tee.
He is to play at 2:20 p.m. in Wisconsin. Graduation is noon (Wisconsin time).
At least his caddie, Jim "Bones" Mackay, made it to Erin Hills to scout the course on the rare chance of Mickelson making it to the U.S. Open. Mackay thinks Erin Hills is perfect for Mickelson, mainly because of wide fairways and the need for a great short game.
"He wants it, obviously, as badly as he wants anything else," Mackay told Fox Sports. "So it would be a really cool thing if it worked out for him tomorrow. Knowing Phil and knowing how much he wants to play, it wouldn't surprise me if he left if rain wasn't in the forecast. You never know out here with this kind of humidity. Storms can roll up unexpectedly.
"I'm leaving him alone, but it wouldn't surprise me if he left, flew a little bit and then if the guys tee off at 2:20, turn around and go home."
Diaz on deck
Nobody is paying closer attention to the "Phil Mickelson watch" than Roberto Diaz is.
The 30-year-old Web.com Tour player is the first alternate for the U.S. Open, which means he'll get into the field if any player pulls out.
Diaz, a four-time NCAA Division II All-America at the University of South Carolina-Aiken, lost a playoff in sectional qualifying and is hoping to play in his first major championship. He was allowed to play practice rounds at Erin Hills.
Holy Hill, a castlelike Catholic basilica and shrine 3 miles from Erin Hills, is visible from 13 holes.
The 15 priests of Holy Hill, who are called friars, have already invited every U.S. Open contestant to attend one of several extra Masses scheduled to take place in their neo-Romanesque church during the event. The players can also roam the idyllic property, set on a 1,340-foot hill that was first considered a sacred site in the mid-1800s.
Asked in a recent phone interview if there was a particularly appropriate blessing for a player about to face golf's greatest crucible, one of the friars, Father Don Brick, replied, "Probably the serenity prayer."
Father Michael Berry, Holy Hill's head friar, added that he would be happy to bless golf clubs for anyone in the field.