Phil Mickelson bids to complete career Grand Slam at historic venue

From “The Greatest Game Ever Played” to “The Most Shameful and Disgusting Moment in Professional Golf History”, Brookline has witnessed both ends of golf’s extreme.

The former is the title of a book and film telling the incredible story of amateur Francis Ouimet, whose home overlooks the 17th green, and the hCis 1913 US Open victory over British greats Harry Vardon and TedRay.

That’s how European vice-captain Sam Torrance reminisced about the scenes on the 17th green in the 1999 Ryder Cup after Justin Leonard’s long birdie putt sparked wild and premature celebrations as his opponent, Jose Maria Olazabal , was waiting to take his own putt to keep the contest alive.

The childhood home of Francis Ouimet, the self-taught former caddy who won the 1913 US Open (Robert F Bukaty/AP/PA)

It was the culmination of a hostile week which saw Colin Montgomerie’s father quit the course due to the amount of abuse his son was going through, while captain Mark James reported a bystander spat on his wife.

Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are the only 1999 players in the 156-man field for this week’s 122nd US Open and, while similar scenes are certainly not expected, both men have reason to be wary of famous fans. noisy Boston.

Garcia has long been the target of American crowds for a variety of reasons, while Mickelson has emerged as the figurehead for Saudi-backed LIV golf events which Rory McIlroy says are “fracturing” the game.

Mickelson’s comments that he was fully aware of Saudi Arabia’s ‘horrendous human rights record’ but was using the threat of a breakaway to ‘reshape’ the way the PGA Tour works cost the six-time winner a slew of sponsors and sent him into self-imposed exile.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson speaks to the media on day one of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club (Steven Paston/PA)

Yet four months later, after missing out on the Masters and the defense of his US PGA title, Mickelson reappeared at the inaugural LIV Golf event at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, where he tacitly confirmed he had received 200 million US dollars (£159.5 million). register.

In response, a group representing the families of victims and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States accused Mickelson and a number of other top American players of washing the sport and betraying their country.

Mickelson’s expression of “deep sympathy” was not well received by the group – 911familiesunited.org – and it will be fascinating to see what kind of reaction awaits the southpaw, who turns 52 on Thursday.

“I think the crowds in Boston are some of the best in the sport, and I think they’ve given me a lot of support, and I’m very grateful for that over the years,” Mickelson said during his conference. press before the tournament.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson poses for a photo with a fan during a practice round before the US Open at Brookline (Charlie Riedel/AP)

“I think their enthusiasm and energy is what creates such a good atmosphere, so whether it’s positive or negative towards me directly, I think it’s going to create an incredible atmosphere to organize this championship.

“I think it’s going to be a big event, and the people here have a lot to do with it.”

Away from the slings and arrows of golf’s Civil War, Spaniard Jon Rahm will try to defend the title he won with birdies on the last two holes at Torrey Pines last year, while Rory McIlroy seeks a first major since 2014 on the back of his own thrilling title defense at the RBC Canadian Open.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick will aim to emulate Jack Nicklaus as the only player to win the US Amateur and the US Open on the same course, with Nicklaus doing so at Pebble Beach and Fitzpatrick having won at Brookline in 2013.

Whatever happens, for many, it will simply be a relief when attention turns to the course, rather than outward.

Laura J. Boyer