June 11 (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson needs no reminder that his window of opportunity to complete a grand slam collection of golf’s four majors is quickly closing and feels this week’s U.S. Open presents an optimal chance to finally get it done.
Mickelson, who turns 48 on Saturday, has been a U.S. Open runner-up a record six times and this week’s event at Shinnecock Hills and next year’s at Pebble Beach could be his last real shots at joining the exclusive club of grand slam winners.
“The difficult thing for me is I continue to put, I put a little bit too much pressure on myself in the majors now because I know that I don’t have a ton of time to win them, especially U.S. Opens,” said Mickelson.
“But these next two U.S. Opens, Shinnecock and Pebble Beach give me two really good opportunities.
“So I need to keep my game, get my game sharp, but I really need to be on those weeks and in the past I’ve been on at Shinnecock and I’m hopeful to do it again.”
When the U.S. Open was last held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, in 2004, Mickelson went to the penultimate hole with the lead but suffered a crushing double-bogey and lost to Retief Goosen by two strokes.
Mickelson spent time at Shinnecock Hills during each of the last two weeks and came away excited about the course setup, which was a serious source of criticism in 2004.
“I think this year’s U.S. Open is the greatest setup going in that I have seen in my 25-whatever years of playing the U.S. Open,” said Mickelson.
“It will reward the best player as opposed to having luck be a big element on some of the bounces in the fairway, bounces around the green, how it comes out of the rough, so forth. Skill is going to be the primary factor this week.”
The five-times major winner, who skipped last year’s U.S. Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation, has reason to be optimistic with six top-10 finishes this season, including a victory in March at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Mickelson, who called himself “such an idiot” in 2006 when he handed the U.S. Open title to Geoff Ogilvy after a double-bogey six on the final hole, does not need a win in his national championship to go down among golf’s all-time greats.
But Mickelson has made it no secret about his desire to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen as career grand slam winners in the U.S. Masters era.
He has long considered the pursuit his biggest focus, saying he views those in the club differently than those on the outside looking in.
“It’s one of those career milestones that set you apart from all players, that shows that you’re a complete player,” said Mickelson. “I need to get it done soon.” (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)