Phil Mickelson Accepts Special Exemption to Play in 2021 U.S. Open

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2021

Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Phil Mickelson accepted a special exemption from the United States Golf Association on Friday to play in the 2021 U.S. Open.

Mickelson said the following about his decision to accept the exemption in a statement, per ESPN's Bob Harig: "Winning the U.S. Open has been a lifelong and elusive dream, and I've come close so many times. You can't win if you don't play. I'm honored and appreciative of the USGA for the opportunity and look forward to playing in my hometown on a golf course I grew up on."

The 121st U.S. Open will be played at Torrey Pines Golf Course, which is located in Mickelson's hometown of San Diego. The tournament will run from June 17-20.

USGA CEO Mike Davis said Friday: "Phil Mickelson's incredible USGA playing record and overall career achievements are among the most noteworthy in the game's history. We are thrilled to welcome him to this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines."

Lefty said last year that he would not accept a special invitation to play in the 2020 U.S. Open, although he ended up being exempt because of changes to the qualifying system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Harig, Mickelson said two weeks ago he wasn't sure if he would accept an invitation this year, and added that he planned to play in a sectional qualifier if he hadn't qualified by June 7.

Now, the 50-year-old veteran does not have to worry about qualifying as he continues his quest to complete the career Grand Slam.

Mickelson is a three-time Masters winner and a one-time champion of both the British Open and PGA Championship. He has yet to win the U.S. Open, but has finished second six times, which is the most ever by a player without a U.S. Open victory.

Phil has not won a non-Champions Tour tournament since 2019, and he has largely struggled this year with his best finish a tie for 21st at the Masters.

Currently the world's No. 116 player, Mickelson got off to a hot start at the Wells Fargo Championship last week before fading. Lefty led after 18 holes but ended up finishing 69th.

At Torrey Pines, Mickelson will be competing in the 30th U.S. Open of his illustrious career, and he will look to achieve one of his greatest accomplishments at his home course.