Tacoma - Phil Mickelson turned 45 on Tuesday still seeking to overcome what
he calls the "huge obstacle" of finally winning the US Open and
completing his career Grand Slam.
The popular American is already in the record books with his six runner-up
finishes to the year's second major leading the all time list.
The last of those came two years ago at Merion outside Philadelphia and he
admits it was the most painful of his near misses as mistakes late in his final
round let in Justin Rose for the victory.
But Mickelson, a five-time major winner, insists that far from being
demoralised by his US Open agonies, he takes heart from his performances.
"I've always been somebody, ever since I was a kid, that got motivated
by failure, that worked harder because of failure," he said.
"Some people get discouraged by that, and it almost pushes them away.
But for me it's been a motivator to continue to work harder and get over that
hump, whether it was trying to win my first major championship that took
significantly longer than I thought it would, whether it's trying to win an
Open Championship or whether it's trying to win a US Open championship.
"The fact that I've come so close is actually a motivator for me to
work harder. And it's encouraging that I've done well in this tournament.
"It's encouraging that I've had success and that I've played some of my
best golf in this event and that I've had a number of opportunities."
Touted as a major winner from his amateur days, Mickelson had to wait until
he was nearly 34 before winning his first major at the 2004 Masters.
He followed that up with the PGA Championship in 2005 and a second Masters
triumph the following year.
After a gap, a third Masters title came in 2010, by which time he had
finished second, or tied for second, five times in the US Open.
To general surprise, his fifth major title came in the British Open in 2013,
just a month after his Merion mistakes.
That left him just a US Open win away from becoming just the sixth man -
after Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen - to
win all four of the Grand Slam titles during the course of his career.
His first bid at that accolade ended tamely last year when he could only tie
for 28th at Pinehurst, but, despite a poor season so far, he believes that his
game is back together. And then there is the venue for this year's US Open.
Chambers Bay, south of Seattle, breaks with US Open mould in that it’s a
links-type course similar in many ways to the championship courses of Scotland
- St Andrews, Turnberry, Troon and Muirfield where he clinched his British Open
success with a closing 66, the best round of his career, he said on that
The memory of that day and that win, Mickelson believes, could spur him to
Grand Slam glory this week.
"I think that's a good point in that having success at Muirfield, when
the course was dry and firm and fast and brown, much like it is here, gives me
much more confidence that I'm going to play well," said Mickelson, who
closed with a 65 for a share of third place at last week's St. Jude Classic in
"I had a good week last week and I'm hoping to carry some of that
momentum into this week."