Planet Golf — 22 June 2015 by Jim Street
Career slam eludes Lefty yet again

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wa. – The career grand slam Phil Mickelson has been chasing since 2010 remains unfulfilled.

Despite having 42 career victories and a spot in the Golf Hall of Fame, Mickelson “winning the U.S. Open” never has been written and was not penned in 2015 either as the 45-year-old walked off the Chambers Bay Golf Course early Sunday afternoon with also-ran status.

He carded a 3-over 73 in the final round on the links-style course, ending the tournament with a 13-over 293. The usually affable Lefty did not address the media afterwards, but took the high road out of town as evidenced by a statement that was released later.

“I enjoyed coming to Washington to play a Major Championship event,” it read. “The people here appreciate the PGA Tour players and the U.S. Open and have really supported it. It was fun to play here. The community helped run a really first-class event, and I wish I had played better.”

Didn’t we all?

His large legion of fans were rooting hard for Mickelson coming in the first U.S. Open ever played in the Pacific Northwest and were enthused even more when Phil carded a opening-round 69.

A second-round 74 dropped him down a few notches, and a third-round 77 debacle KO’d him from title contention.

The low point possibly came on No. 18 on Sunday when he had a swing-and-a-miss on what was supposed to be a flop shot out the rough near the green.

RORY CHARGES, THEN FADES: The momentum generated by a splendid front nine, when he fired a 3-under 32, did not hold up for Rory McIlroy the world’s No. 1-ranked player.

But he added more excitement to the final round of the U.S. Open. “Got off to a good start,” he said after his 4-under 66.  “I hit some good shots early on, made some nice putts, and just got a little bit of momentum going there. And I really thought when I held that long putt on 13, I had 16 and 18 coming in. |

“If I could post 4-under par, birdie those two holes coming in, then I thought I had a great chance of winning. I really did, especially with the way the greens are getting out there. They’re getting baked. At least it would be a number for guys to really think about.

“I felt I had a good shot on 15 and it just came up short. I had a good first putt and second putt, I lacked a bit of speed. And 16 and 17 killed me as well.”

McIlroy settled for an even-par 280 over the four days.

“When I look back, obviously the last few holes of this golf course haven’t been kind to me all week,” he added. “And when I look back at this tournament that’s where I’ll rue some missed opportunities. I feel like it’s sort of one that got away, especially the way I putted this week. I don’t think I’ve ever hit the ball as well in a major championship.”

CAMPBELL LANDS LOW-AM TITLE: A 10-shot improvement from a third-round 78 catapulted Brian Campbell to the head of the amateur class.

The recent University of Illinois graduate fired a 2-under 68 for a four-day total of 5-over 285, two shots better than Denny McCarthy and Ollie Schniederjans. “I’m very proud of myself today,” Campbell said.

“I knew I had the potential to shoot a good one. So I kind of let it happen. At a course like this, that’s playing so tough you can’t force the issue. You’ve got to be just really patient out there, just point A to point B, fairway, green. And when the greens are getting fast like they are, you kind of almost got to lag putt your short ones even and get used to that kind of a speed.

“But I think the key for today was I really focused on my distance control. Yesterday I let some shots get away from me. When you’re not precise on those numbers, that’s when you get those bad bounces and you get in some bad areas. That’s really what I focused on today.”

As the low amateur, Campbell received the Jack Nicklaus Medal.

FORMER HUSKY MAKES GOOD: Former University of Washington Husky star Troy Kelly, the first player in the field to hit off the 10th tee in Thursday’s first round, ended the U.S. Open with a 1-under 69 on Sunday and finished with respectable 6-over 286.

“The whole experience was amazing,” he said. “It was an honor to play in front of everybody and have everybody come out and support me. Overall it was a great week.

“Obviously the last two days have been fun for me, because I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to play. Yeah, overall a great week. It was a lot of fun.”

Kelly, who lives eight minutes from Chambers Bay, earned one of the three available qualifying spots at Tumble Creek Club in Cle Elum.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s the kind of golf course I would like to come play with my mates with a cart and a few beers.” – Lee Westwood on his impressions of Chambers Bay Golf Course.

NOTES: Having shot a 10-over 80 on Saturday, Chris Kirk might have been in a funky mood when he started his final round. If so, it only got worse on the first hole. He took a “10”. . .Best round of the day was shot by Adam Scott, who fired a 32-32–64 to finish in a tie for fourth.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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