Mickelson says no to US Open special exemption

When asked about receiving a special exemption into the US Open this year, Phil Mickelson made it very clear he would say no.

And if he keeps playing like he did at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he mightn’t need one either.

Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson (Credit: USGA)

Of course, the current World No.55 will need to continue his current form and maybe even clinch a win if he is to stay safely inside the top 60 long enough for an automatic exemption to play at Winged Foot in June.

The 49-year-old finished in outright 3rd on Sunday on the PGA Tour to match his finish a week prior at the Saudi International on the European Tour.

It turns around what has been a decidedly poor year by Mickelson’s standards, missing three cuts and only making it inside the top 30 once this year prior the last fortnight.

“I won’t accept it [an invitation]. So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption,” said Mickelson ahead of AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

When asked further about his reasons for not wanting any special treatment, Mickelson was adamant about his stance.

“They [USGA] have never been an organisation that likes to give out exemptions, special exemptions. I don’t want a special exemption. I think I’ll get in the tournament.”

“If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t. I don’t want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.”

Mickelson will still have the chance to qualify like any other player via sectional qualifying. However, it has been a long time, 1993 in fact, since he needed to go that route and it is perhaps something he wouldn’t bother doing given his previous remarks.

The USGA doesn’t hand out many exemptions, just 55 in the history of the event, with the most recent going to two-time US Open champion Ernie Els last year.

Four-time US Open champ, Ben Hogan, was awarded a free pass in 1966 and Jack Nicklaus, who also has won the title four times, has claimed eight exemptions (the most of any player) to help keep his streak of 45 consecutive US Opens alive while Arnold Palmer was just behind the Golden Bear with five exemptions.

Hale Irwin was the only player to have ever turned an exemption into victory, winning in 1990 with rounds of 69-70-74-67 to defeat Mike Donald in a playoff.

The 2020 US OPne will take place at Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course) in Mamaroneck, New York where Gary Woodland will defend the title he won over Brooks Koepka last year at Pebble Beach.

Winged Foot is also the site of Geoff Ogilvy’s infamous win as Phil Mickelson inexplicably played some of his worst golf coming down the 18th hole to surrender a one shot lead and hand Ogilvy the title.