2019 U.S. Open: Mickelson’s birthday wish

Phil Mickelson turns 49 on Sunday, the day of the U.S. Open’s final round, when the local favorite would love nothing more than to complete his Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

The odds are stacked against it. If Phil Mickelson wins the U.S. Open this week at Pebble Beach—which, barring a serious weather delay, would happen on Sunday on his 49th birthday—the San Diego-born golfer would become the oldest major champion ever. The record has been held by Julius Boros since he claimed the 1968 PGA Championship aged 48 years, four months. The oldest winner of the U.S. Open is Hale Irwin, who was 45 when he won in 1990.

Mickelson needs a U.S. Open title to complete his Career Grand Slam, but his last major triumph was in The Open at Muirfield in 2013, six years ago.

Phil Mickelson at the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach in February

Conventional thinking ranks Mickelson as an outsider this week, yet he has made a stellar career out of breaking convention and he has a special relationship with Pebble Beach. He has won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am five times, with the fifth being just four months ago (he won in 1998, 2005, ’07, ’12 and ’19). Only Mark O’Meara can match that feat (five wins between 1985-1997).

Mickelson’s affinity with Pebble Beach is not just a February fling either. The last time the U.S. Open was held here—when Graeme McDowell won in 2010—Mickelson finished three shots back, tied for fourth with Tiger Woods. In the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when Woods went on his record-smashing rampage, Mickelson was tied for 16th. He is also the only player in this week’s field who played in the 1992 U.S. Open here, when Tom Kite won, although Mickelson did miss the cut that week after a second-round 81.

Six times the runner-up in the U.S. Open, Mickelson leads this week’s field with 27 past U.S. Open appearances, so could the pebbles finally be aligned for Mickelson for attempt number 28?

Mickelson will be grouped with McDowell and Dustin Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champ, when the first round gets under way on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson