UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wa. — Phil Mickelson made his first visit to Chambers Bay on Thursday, spending 3½ hours on the front nine of the venue for next month’s U.S. Open.
The Tacoma News Tribune reported that Mickelson was there with his short-game coach, Dave Peltz, and longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.
Mickelson had said at the Players Championship he would visit the venue to prepare for the 115th U.S. Open sometime after it closed to the public.
“Glad I spent some time here,” Mickelson said in a brief interview with a local TV station. “A very interesting course.”
Asked if anything surprised him, Mickelson said that Chambers Bay did closely resemble the type of links courses found in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Mickelson’s last victory came at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland.
Mickelson, who turns 45 prior to the U.S. Open, has finished second in the tournament on six occasions, a record for non-winners of the event. It is the only major he needs to complete the career Grand Slam.
Over the years, Mickelson has made a habit of visiting major championship venues in advance, especially the U.S. Open sites.
Several players already have made scouting visits, and United States Golf Association executive director Mike Davis had last month suggested that a player who did not prepare in advance would have no chance of winning the tournament.
That rankled several players, given the difficulty of getting to the Pacific Northwest and their already heavy schedules. Davis clarified his remarks earlier this week when a Jack Nicklaus exhibit was opened at USGA headquarters.
“My point was this is really a unique golf course that was going to require a lot of study,” Davis said. “More elevation changes than a normal U.S. Open course. It’s wider. It’s all fescue (grass). They had never seen it before. There’s a lot of local knowledge needed.”
According to the News Tribune, Mickelson spent more than a half-hour on the first hole alone, spending a good bit of time around the green hitting various chip and pitch shots.
The five-time major champion is scheduled to play next week’s Memorial Tournament and then the FedEx St. Jude Classic prior to the U.S. Open.