Phil Mickelson looking to finish career grand slamMickelson looking to win first U.S. Open, finish career grand slam
Thursday morning, Phil Mickelson teed off at 7:51 a.m. with reigning U.S Open champion Justin Rose and current U.S Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, becoming one of the first to get on course in the chase for the 2014 national championship.
Mickelson has won three of the four legs of the career "grand slam" in golf, with his own national title the only one to so far elude him. It was just a decade ago when Mickelson got the "major monkey" off his back by capturing his first at the 2004 Masters, and since then, "Lefty" has been a dominating force in all major championships. He has gone on to win two more Masters (in 2006 and 2010), he captured the PGA Championship in 2005, and, most recently, he added the Open Championship in 2013.
The U.S Open, though, has been as close as it can be without a win for Mickelson. He has been the bridesmaid a record six times, with his most notable second-place finish coming in 1999 when the late Payne Stewart drained a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to avoid a Monday playoff with Mickelson at the very same Pinehurst Resort and Country Club that is hosting this year's edition.
Thursday, Mickelson began his round at the 114th U.S Open in a big way, sinking a birdie on the par-5 10th hole at the renovated Pinehurst No. 2 course. He birdied one more hole on his front side but quickly followed that second birdie of the round with his first bogey of the tournament, and made the turn at 1-under par.
On his back side, Mickelson two-putted the reachable par-5 fifth for his third and final birdie of the day, but much like earlier in the round, he followed up that birdie with another bogey. He would bogey again on the par-4 8th, missing a lengthy par putt in the process, and Phil finished his round with a good two-putt par on the par-3 9th hole.
Playing partners Rose and Fitzpatrick shot a 2-over 72 and a 1-over 71, respectively, and that left them just behind the early leaders in the clubhouse, Graeme McDowell and Kevin Na, who shot 2-under 68s and sat in the lead as of early Thursday afternoon.
Mickelson's group will tee off for their second round at 1:36 Friday afternoon.