Phil Mickelson had three top-five finishes at the U.S. Open from 2008 to 2010 before the wheels fell off.
But there are a couple reasons why I believe Lefty will contend for the 2013 U.S. Open championship on the final day at Merion Golf Club.
For one, Mickelson has had two top-three finishes in his last three tournaments. He's coming off a second-place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in which he ranked seventh in the field in putts per round, via CBSSports.com. He also ranked first in putts per round at the Wells Fargo Championship where he placed third, via CBSSports.com.
Yes, Mickelson's driving accuracy as historically been poor—which could hurt his chances in the rough at Merion Golf Club—but there's another reason why I believe the four-time major winner will have a strong showing at the 2013 U.S. Open: he will be mentally sound.
In Mickelson's last three rounds at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, he shot a 67 or better and closed strong. On top of that, Mickelson's daughter Amanda is speaking at her eighth-grade graduation ceremony on Tuesday, per Bob Harig of ESPN.com.
It may seem silly to some that such an occurrence would boost Mickelson's play at the U.S. Open, but—as any parent knows—it's always a celebration when your child graduates, even if it's from the eighth grade.
Golf is a mental game. Sometimes a player's mentality can trump the odds. And it's not like Mickelson has played poorly this year—he has four top-10 finishes and one victory (at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February).
We've seen this dynamic in motion before. The wife of U.S. Open defending champion, Webb Simpson, was expecting when he won last year. Bubba Watson had celebrated the adoption of one-month old Caleb two weeks before he won the 2012 Masters.
Some may say this is coincidence. I don't. I think both players were in good spirits before their major championships, free from negative thinking, and it played a part in their victories.
I'm not saying that any golfer that has a child or who is expecting will win a major, but I do believe it factored into the wins for Simpson and Watson. Simpson had missed two straight cuts last year before winning the U.S. Open.
The same goes for your child celebrating an accomplishment like an eighth-grade graduation. Mickelson has always been known as a family guy. The fact that he skipped Tuesday's practice at Merion to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony exemplifies that.
Make no mistake about it, Mickelson will be in good spirits—and good form—at Merion this year. He has a record five career runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. Don't be surprised if he's among the leaders on the final day of the 2013 U.S. Open. A victory isn't out of the question, either.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!