(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson will get another chance to complete the career Grand Slam thanks to an adjusted exemption criteria for this year’s U.S. Open that was announced by the United States Golf Association (USGA) on Thursday.
Mickelson, a runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times, was in danger of missing the Sept. 17-20 tournament at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York but made it into the field as the COVID-19 outbreak led to a change in the exemption categories.
Among the changes announced by the USGA, which eliminated all qualifying for the event, were to include the top 70 players in the world rankings as of March 15 - when the PGA Tour went into a three-month a COVID-19 hiatus - instead of the usual 60.
Mickelson was 61st at the time.
The U.S. Open is the lone major Mickelson has never won.
In 2006 at Winged Foot he famously held a one-shot lead entering the final hole but carded a double-bogey and lost by one shot to Geoff Ogilvy.
“That worked out great, to be able to know that I have a chance to go back to Winged Foot and give it another shot,” Mickelson said after carding an opening round six-under-par 64 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Mickelson had said earlier in the year that he would not accept a special invitation to compete at the U.S. Open, and was confident he could earn his way into the tournament.
Mickelson is a five-times major champion having won the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the PGA Championship in 2005 and the British Open in 2013.
A U.S. Open win would put his name alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods on the career Grand Slam list.
But Mickelson, who turned 50 last week, is on the verge of battling a lost cause as nobody has won the U.S. Open at such an advanced age, with American Hale Irwin becoming the oldest champion at 45 in 1990.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge