DUBLIN, Ohio – Phil Mickelson plans to skip the U.S. Open so he can attend his daughter Amanda’s high school graduation ceremony near their San Diego home.
Mickelson, said he has not officially withdrawn from the tournament which begins June 15 and will wait closer to the event to do so, barring some change that would allow him to play.
“I wanted to make sure they had enough notice to accommodate it,” said Mickelson, who said he called United States Golf Association executive director Mike Davis to inform him. “So that’s why I’m saying something today. But it doesn’t look good for me playing. But I’m really excited about this moment in our family’s life.”
Amanda is Mickelson and his wife Amy’s oldest child and turns 18 this month. She will be giving the commencement speech on June 15, which is the first day of the U.S. Open.
Mickelson, who turns 47 on the day of the second round, said if the tournament were delayed due to weather or if the ceremony were changed – unlikely scenarios, he said – then he’d try to make it from Southern California to Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
The five-time major winner who has never won the U.S. Open said he’s been aware of the conflict for about six months.
“Back of your head, you’re like, maybe something will change, maybe something will change, but nothing is really change, so here we are,” Mickelson said. “She’s very supportive. She’s always been, “Dad, I know you love the Open.’ She’s always been very supportive. But it’s one of those things you just show up. You just need to be there. It wasn’t really something that we discussed, because it really wasn’t much of a decision.”
Mickelson said Amanda will be attending Brown University (“She’s a smart little s—,” he said).
With his wife, Amy, due any day, Mickelson competed in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst and contended he with would leave the tournament if she went into labor with Amanda. Mickelson’s caddie, Jim Mackay, carried a beeper in his golf bag, and he pledged he would take off regardless of his situation in the tournament.
Mickelson finished second to Payne Stewart when the late golfer holed a 12-foot par putt on the final hole to edge him by a stroke; had Stewart missed, he and Mickelson would have had an 18-hole playoff to decide the tournament – on the day Amanda ended up being born. That was the first of his record six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open.
“Yeah, I go back and every year at the U.S. Open, I think back about that ’99 Open,” Mickelson said. “The birth of your child, any child, but especially your first child is the most emotional event you can ever experience and share together with your wife.
“And I always think about that at the U.S. Open, I think about Payne Stewart (who died later that year in a plane crash) and I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by. Here she is turning 18 and moving off to college and I’m so proud of her. And she’s a special person. I’m excited to see what she has to say at her commencement.”
Mickelson has not missed a major since the 2009 Open at Turnberry, when his wife was battling breast cancer. Since missing the Masters in 1994, that is the only major championship he has not played. In 2013, Mickelson left Merion to attend Amanda’s grade school graduation. He returned on an overnight flight and arrived shortly before the first round. He ended up finishing second to Justin Rose, his sixth runner-up finish in the tournament.