Phil Mickelson: Why 2012 US Open Is Lefty's Best Shot at Another Major

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IJune 12, 2012

DUBLIN, OH - MAY 31:  Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on May 31, 2012 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson's career may be winding down, and his opportunities to win another major are becoming less likely, but the 2012 U.S. Open will certainly be his best shot to do so.

Lefty's win early in the year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February matched his win total from the entire 2011 season. It was a promising beginning to a year figured to be nothing special for Mickelson.

However, since that win, Mickelson has been inconsistent. He has finished in either 25th and beyond, or in the top 10. Despite his up-and-down play, Lefty has still made 11 of 13 cuts, and that makes him the perfect candidate to be in the running on Sunday.

The course at the Olympic Club won't be an easy one, and it's no wonder the U.S. Open is known as "golf's toughest test." Such a course will leave the field wide open with low scores. Any golfer who gets hot late in the tournament can snatch the major.

That type of parity will only help Mickelson.

Lefty certainly isn't in the conversation as one of the elite golfers in the world anymore. His skills have diminished somewhat and that's apparent by looking at his statistics this season, per PGATour.com.

The No. 13-ranked player in the world has seen the distance on his drives lessen, but in turn has done a better job getting on the greens with accuracy.

As long as Mickelson doesn't get too adventurous with his drives as he has done in the past, the former Masters champion should be on the green with regularity during the tournament. If he can manage to do that, Mickelson's putting has looked much improved this year and should keep him in the running the entire way.

Mickelson is no stranger to success in majors—his experiences winning big events such as the Masters three times and the PGA Championship once is valuable experience.

The U.S. Open is one of the majors that has eluded Mickelson his entire career. Lefty has finished second in the event an astonishing five times, with nine top-10 finishes in all.

Mickelson's 54th-place finish from 2011 is extra motivation for this golfer to come out swinging in this year's event. As long as Lefty can stay within himself and stick to what he does best, he'll have a great chance of capturing his first U.S. Open title.

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