Phil Mickelson has come out and said that Oakmont, which is hosting the U.S. Open next week for the ninth time, is the toughest course he’s ever played.
“I’ve played Oakmont the last two days, and I really think it is the hardest golf course we’ve ever played. They don’t know what the weather is going to be next week, if it’s going to be dry or if it’s going to be wet. So what they do is they let the rough grow long, and if it is wet they’ll leave it like that, and if it’s dry they’ll thin it out. So yesterday the rough was extremely long, I guess, and challenging.”
It’s no secret that Oakmont is difficult. The greens are stupid fast and the surface around the greens are just as fast. We posted a video where a guy was able to putt from 118 yards out onto the green showing just how tightly cut the fairways are as well. Throw in the bunkers and the rough and you’ve got yourself one difficult course.
“It’s a very fair test, even though it’s hard. But a lot of golf courses, when they challenge you tee to green the way Oakmont does, it usually has a little bit of a reprieve on the greens, and you really don’t at Oakmont. They’re some of the most undulating, fast, difficult greens to putt. It really is the hardest golf course I think we’ve played.”
Mickelson went on to say that the reason he is “selfishly” playing in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee is because it gets him “sharp” for the U.S. Open.
“The reason I’m here selfishly, it really gets me ready for — to get my game sharp, to play competitive for the U.S. Open, which is a tournament I would love to win to cap off my career, and I feel like playing here and playing well gives me the best chance to do that.”
No kidding? Phil has had a fairly up and down season. He finished tied for third at the CareerBuilder Challenge, second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and fifth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, but has struggled lately and although in his last five events he has finished as high as tied for fourth, he’s also missed three cuts.
Lefty is pretty optimistic about his chances at Oakmont though.
“The reason why I’m optimistic about Oakmont is that it doesn’t require me to hit a lot of drivers. It requires me to get the ball in play off the tee, but when I’m not hitting drivers, if I’m hitting 3-woods, hybrids, I feel confident I’m able to do that a fairly high percentage of the time. One of the strengths of my game over the last decade or so that’s really helped me win the tournaments I’ve won is lag putting, so if I have a good week lag putting where I’m able to have easy pars from anywhere on the green, that’s going to lead to a good week. That’s why I’m optimistic. However, it’s a U.S. Open and you get on a bad streak and you start missing fairways there, which isn’t exactly uncommon in my game, it is difficult.”
The U.S. Open is the one major that has eluded Phil. He’s won the Masters three times (2004, 2006, 2010), the Open Championship in 2013 at Muirfield, which will no longer be in the rotation to host the event, and the PGA Championship in 2005 at Baltusrol Golf Club which will also host the event this year, but he’s finished second or tied for second at the U.S. Open a staggering six times in his career.
With a win at Oakmont, he would join the likes of Nicklaus, Woods, Hogan, Player, and Sarazen as the only golfers to complete the Masters Era grand slam.