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Phil Mickelson won’t accept Open ‘sympathy spot’

At No. 72 in the world ranking, Mickelson would need to move into the top 60 or win one of golf’s big prizes in the coming months to land a spot in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot

No, thanks: Phil Mickelson will not accept a special exemption to the U.S. Open, should one be offered, he said Wednesday at Pebble Beach, Calif. Mickelson, 49, the defending champion and a five-time winner at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, was asked during a news conference whether he would welcome a spot in the 120th U.S. Open on June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. Mickelson, a five-time major champion, lacks only the Open title to complete the career Grand Slam. “I won’t accept it,” he said. “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. I just won’t.” Per USGA policy, Mickelson actually would have to request an exemption before one would be offered. Mickelson has missed only one U.S. Open since 1993, his first year on Tour. In 2017, he skipped the Open at Erin Hills to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. Mickelson stands 72nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. To qualify for the national championship, he would need to be in the top 60 on May 18, after the PGA Championship, or on June 15, the final ranking before the Open. He also would qualify by winning the Masters, Players or PGA. “I don’t want a sympathy spot,” he said. “If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.” Winged Foot was the scene of one of his most spectacular collapses in an event in which Mickelson finished runner-up six times. Leading by one stroke with one hole to play in 2006, the left-handed Mickelson hit a wild slice off the tee and made double bogey, losing by one stroke to Geoff Ogilvy. Afterward, Mickelson said: “I am such an idiot.”

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