Golf star Phil Mickelson will not have to qualify for the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He will enter the tournament after receiving a special exemption.
USGA CEO Mike Davis announced Mickelson, who grew up in San Diego close to Torrey Pines, would be entered into the field:
“Phil Mickelson’s incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game’s history,” Davis said in a statement, via Bob Harig of ESPN. “We are thrilled to welcome him to this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.”
Mickelson had previously suggested he would not take a special exemption. As someone ranked outside the top 60 golfers in the world, that meant he would need to win a qualifier.
However, Mickelson’s desire to capture a long elusive U.S. Open title ultimately led him to accept the invitation:
“Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” Phil Mickelson said in a statement, via Harig. “You can’t win if you don’t play. I’m honored and appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity and look forward to playing in my hometown on a golf course I grew up on.”
The U.S. Open is the only major Mickelson has yet to win. He has the most runner-up finishes (six) in U.S. Open history for a player that has never won the tournament.
Can “Lefty” pull off a shocker at home next month? His best finish this year was a tie for 21st at The Masters in April. He has won a couple Champions Tour events, but that’s hardly the same level of competition.
Perhaps Phil Mickelson will be galvanized by the special exemption and opportunity to compete close to home.