Phil Mickelson in 2020 US Open Field After USGA Announces Exemption Criteria

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2020

Phil Mickelson tees off from the third hole during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Cromwell, Conn. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Phil Mickelson has officially qualified for the U.S. Open following the United States Golf Association's official announcement regarding exemption criteria Thursday.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the PGA Tour to cancel several events, as well as local and sectional qualifying, some adjustments were made, including the amount of golfers who make the field based on their world golf rankings, according to ESPN's Bob Harig.

Normally, only the top 60 in the world rankings are exempt from qualifying, which could have seen Mickelson left out of the field since he was ranked 61st as of March 15. However, Mickelson will be part of September's field since the top 70 golfers in the world rankings as of March 15 are exempt.

The 2020 U.S. Open was originally scheduled to be held June 18-21 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, but it was moved to Sept. 17-20 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships John Bodenhamer said the following regarding the qualifying changes:

"It was uncharted territory for us. It's something we've never done before, at least in modern history. Qualifying is such a huge part of what we do. It's just ingrained in our DNA and a cornerstone of what we do. It's the ultimate meritocracy. It doesn't matter your background. If you get the ball in the hole, you're in. So this wasn't easy.

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"But we feel good about it. It's a representative field for the U.S. Open to what might be produced through qualifying and exemptions in a normal year. ... It took quite a bit of creative thinking on our part, and there are some things in here that will surprise."

In addition to the top 70 players in the world rankings, any golfer who has won the U.S. Open in the past 10 years is exempt. The U.S. Open is the one major Lefty still hasn't won, but he has finished second on six occasions, with his most recent second-place finish coming in 2013.

He also finished second in the 2006 U.S. Open, which was the last time it was held at Winged Foot. Provided Mickelson plays in the U.S. Open, it will mark the 26th time in the past 27 years that he has participated in the event.

While the 50-year-old Mickelson is one of the all-time greats with five major championships to his credit, he hasn't won a major since 2013 and has just two tournament wins of any kind since then.

Mickelson has struggled mightily in 2020, as he entered this week's Travelers Championship having missed the cut in three straight events and five of his last six.

Given his low ranking, Mickelson is in danger of missing out on playing in the Ryder Cup unless team captain Steve Stricker selects him as a captain's pick.

In addition to being a top-70 player or having won the U.S. Open in the past 10 years, players can qualify for the 2020 U.S. Open by placing inside the top 10 and being one of the top two finishers among golfers who haven't yet qualified in one of six upcoming tournaments.

They can also qualify based on the FedEx Cup points list or through a number of different international tours, the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Professional Championship.

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