Column: Mickelson adds another chapter to long US Open story

  • Article by: TIM DAHLBERG , AP Sports Columnist
  • Updated: June 14, 2013 - 6:59 AM

ARDMORE, Pa. — By the time Phil Mickelson got some caffeine in him and began making birdies on the back nine, the fans who braved wild warnings of hail and torrential rain in the opening round of the U.S. Open started to get the idea that something more interesting than the weather was happening at venerable Merion Golf Club. In a place that oozes history, a modern kind of story was unfolding.

Maybe not the kind that would merit a plaque, but for one day at least it was enough to warm the heart of even the most jaded Philadelphia sports fan. Ben Hogan and the 1-iron he hit to win here never seemed more 1950 than it did on this day. Bobby Jones wouldn't have had a clue about jet lag,, or why Mickelson had five wedges in his bag but no driver.

He crossed the country in the middle of the night to get here, though this time it wasn't some bizarre plan that only Mickelson seems to hatch at major championships. It was simply a desire to see his daughter speak at her eighth-grade graduation in Southern California. To him, it was just as important as winning the title that has so painfully eluded him all these years.

"She told me that it's fine. 'Stay, it's the U.S. Open. I know how much you care about it,' " Mickelson said. "And I told her that I want to be there. I don't want to miss that. I don't want to miss her speech. I don't want to miss her graduation."

He didn't, and she delivered for him. Amanda Mickelson — who nearly made history herself once in the U.S. Open — gave a speech that included a reference to the fictional anchorman Ron Burgundy, with her proud dad flashing that big Mickelson grin from the audience.

He ended up delivering, too, not only making his 7:11 a.m. tee time but rallying on his back nine to shoot a 3-under 67 for the first-round lead in the clubhouse in the rain-delayed Open. Just another day in Phil's world, or as the fans at Merion kept reminding him "PHIL-a-del-phia."

It helps, of course, that Mickelson owns a $60 million Gulfstream 5 private jet he can hop on anytime he wants. Not many flights out of San Diego to Philadelphia at that time of night, and who knows what might happen in baggage claim to his clubs.

"This is not that out of the ordinary," he insisted. "I do this about six, 10 times a year where I fly back East red eye, play some outing and then come home."

This isn't just some outing, though. It's a tournament that has haunted Mickelson, one he desperately wants to win in the twilight of his career.

He nearly won it the first time the day before Amanda was born, losing a Sunday duel to the late Payne Stewart in 1999 that was the first of his five runner-up finishes. He played with a beeper in his bag, ready to walk off the course the moment his wife Amy went into labor.

Another loss was equally dramatic, though not as personal. In 2006 at Winged Foot, Mickelson had a one-shot lead on the final hole when he tried to pull off a miracle recovery shot and hit a tree to make a double bogey that gave Geoff Ogilvy the title.

"I am such an idiot," a devastated Mickelson said afterward.

The plan this year was a bit more convoluted than others, though with Mickelson there's usually some sort of twist. He was always going to go to Amanda's graduation, but was going to practice a few days here first before fueling up the Gulfstream and heading home.

After seeing what a muddy mess Merion was on Monday, though, Mickelson went home early and spent the time fine tuning his short game in his backyard practice complex. Then it was a 6 p.m. graduation on Wednesday, wheels up two hours later and landing in Philadelphia at 3:30 a.m.

A few hours sleep and study on the plane, another hour or so when he got here, and he was ready to go.

"It might be abnormal, but it actually worked out really well," Mickelson said. "I got all my work done on Merion last when I was here a week and a half ago. I knew exactly how I wanted to play the golf course, given the conditions, given different wind conditions, clubs I was going to be hitting, where I was going to be and the shots that I was going to have."

Mickelson, who carried five wedges but no driver in his bag for the relatively short Merion course, promptly went out and bogeyed the first hole. But he came back after a rain delay to play 3-under on his back nine, aided by an energy drink at the turn that got him refocused.

Now he's not only in the enviable position of being high on the leaderboard in the U.S. Open, but having plenty of time to get his rest. He would have had an afternoon tee time anyway on Friday, but after two suspensions for weather it will be delayed even more because other players have to complete their first rounds.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati 0 Top 5th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Baltimore 0
NY Yankees 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Toronto 1
Philadelphia 0 Top 5th Inning
NY Mets 1
Boston 8 Bottom 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Miami 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Atlanta 0
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 14 2nd Qtr 10:34
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 0 1st Qtr 3:28
(8) Michigan State 21
Bowling Green 0 1st Qtr 3:28
Western Ky 7
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 3 1:00
Montreal 7
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close