Phil Mickelson will make it an even 30. The USGA announced on Friday that Mickelson has received a special exemption into the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, scheduled for June 17-20. It will be Mickelson’s 30th career appearance in the national championship, which he’s never won but famously finished as the runner-up a record six times. It’s also a homecoming of sorts, as Mickelson grew up in the area and raised his family there, too.
“Phil Mickelson’s incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game’s history,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis in a release. “We are thrilled to welcome him to this year’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.”
Mickelson almost needed an invite to last year’s 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot (which he said he wouldn’t accept) but that changed when the USGA tweaked its exemption categories due to scheduling issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. With no local or sectional qualifying last year, the USGA expanded its field to the top 70 in the Official World Golf Ranking as of March 15 instead of the usual top 60. Mickelson was 61st at the time.
A couple of weeks ago Mickelson, now ranked 116th, told ESPN he was unsure if he’d accept an invite this year. Now we know the answer.
“Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I’ve come close so many times,” Mickelson said in the press release. “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.”
Mickelson is the sixth player to receive a special exemption into the U.S. Open since 2010. He’s a U.S. Open win away from completing the career grand slam, which only five players have captured.