After rounds of 79 and 74, there will be no Phil Mickelson in the US Open this weekend – but have we seen the last of ‘Lefty’ in the championship altogether?
The 50-year-old, tipped by one optimistic gambler to win at Winged Foot this week, looked off the pace from the start and ended up missing the cut much too comfortably.
The five-time major champion struggled off the tee in particular, hitting only six of his 28 fairways over the two days. His putting wasn’t much better. At the time of writing, he ranked 140th on the greens out of a field of 143.
It all added up to a 13-over total and just a fourth missed cut in 29 appearances in his national open.
But will he get a chance to make a 30th when the event moves back to its traditional June slot next year?
As things stand, it’s not looking good. All of Mickelson’s exemptions have expired. He only qualified for this year’s championship by virtue of being inside the top-70 on the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of March.
Assuming the championship reverts to its traditional qualification model next year - this year’s having been torn up by the COVID-19 pandemic - that will likely revert back to allowing in those ranked inside the top-60 places by late May.
SIx-time US Open runner-up Mickelson is currently 53rd.
His five-year "major champion" exemption expired following the 2018 US Open, the most recent of his five wins in golf’s biggest events coming in the 2013 Open at Muirfield. He also missed out on this year’s Tour Championship, which would have earned him a spot at Torrey Pines next summer. The US Senior Open, for which he is now eligible, has also been cancelled for 2020. Had he won that, he’d have got in, too.
So, as things stand, there are basically five avenues by which he can hope to qualify.
One: win multiple PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the FedEx Cup between now and next year’s championship.
Two: win The PLAYERS Championship in March.
Three: maintain his position inside the world’s top-60.
Four: enter and successfully negotiate a sectional qualifier
Five: receive a special exemption from the USGA.
Right at this moment in time, you would only put money on the latter. Unless, of course, you’re the guy who laid $45,000 on him to win this week...