June 11, 2018 / 10:59 PM / a year ago

Fine line between tough test and carnival golf, says Mickelson

SOUTHAMPTON, NY. (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson implored officials to ensure that Shinnecock Hills is presented fairly to all players at this week’s U.S. Open as he makes another attempt to complete the career grand slam.

FILE PHOTO: Phil Mickelson hits his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenessee, U.S., June 7, 2018. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Mickelson does not want a repeat of the events that unfolded in 2004 which he believes led to him finishing second to Retief Goosen, one of his six runner-up spots in the championship.

“I know it is a fine line between testing the best players to the greatest degree and then making it carnival golf,” Mickelson said.

“The USGA (U.S. Golf Association) are doing the best they can to find that line, and a lot of times they do, and sometimes they cross over it.

“You do all this prep work and then you are left to chance the outcome, as opposed to skill. That’s the problem I have with it.”

Mickelson then went on to give an example of what he meant.

“Saturday in 2004, the barometer for watering the seventh green was, did anyone make double or triple (bogey)?” he said.

“If your group made a double or a triple, the green got water for the group behind you.

“That type of chance bothers me given that we put so much into this tournament. To have it left to something like that is disappointing.”

Apart from the nagging worry of something similar occurring this week, Mickelson could hardly be more enthused about the course set-up, particularly the closely-mown areas around the greens.

These should test both imagination and execution, often allowing a variety of shots — everything from a putt, to a chip-and-run, to a flop shot.

Having skipped last year’s U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, Mickelson will get a fourth chance to complete the modern grand slam. He won the third leg at the 2013 British Open.

With Mickelson turning 48 on Saturday, he is aware that time to complete the goal appears to be running out. Julius Boros currently holds the record of being the oldest ever major winner, having won the 1968 PGA Championship aged 48 and four months.

Eight-times PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon thinks it will not be long before someone breaks Boros’ mark due to the improved physical condition of today’s players.

“I’ll be surprised if we don’t continue to see great players like Phil continue to compete into their 50s,” Faxon, part of the Fox Sports commentary team this week, told Reuters.

“You’ll see guys in their 50s win majors, I’ve no doubt.”

Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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