Jeremy Chapman US Open PreviewIf the finish to this year’s US Open is even one-quarter as thrilling as the 2006 edition at famed Winged Foot, we are in for an absolute humdinger on Sunday.

We Brits think of Winged Foot as Monty’s Folly as it was big Col’s biggest chance of getting rid of that ‘Best Golfer Never To Have Won A Major’ tag. Just a par four at the 72nd hole would have done it and ‘all’ he had to do was hit a 6-iron into the heart of the green 172 yards away, take two putts and, as it transpired, it would have been his.

Instead he dithered, took the wrong club and somehow ran up a double-bogey six which wasn’t even good enough to put him into a Monday playoff. But the crestfallen Scot was only one cast member of an extraordinary comedy of errors that also starred Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and the surprised winner Geoff Ogilvy who made clutch up-and-down pars at 17 and 18 and just hoped that was good enough for a playoff.

As it turned out, more than good enough. More than Monty, it was Mickelson, playing in the last pairing (and take a bow if you know which English golfer was marking his card), who had the Open his for the taking as he knew standing on the 18th tee exactly what was required … par four to win, bogey for a playoff.

That was the moment Phil The Thrill became Phil The Pillock, the compulsive gambler who threw it away and with it a career Grand Slam, although he wasn’t to know it at the time because his Open at Muirfield was seven years down the line.

To put it into context, MickeIson was hot property chasing three Majors in a row at Winged Foot. He’d won the 2005 PGA and 2006 Masters and although Tiger was still world No. 1 (Phil never was - how unlucky to be around when Woods was in his pomp), the heavily-backed Lefty was arguably the best golfer on the planet at that time.

His kamikaze performance left his legion of punters tearing their hair out. I can still see him now, head in hands, wailing “I am such an idiot”. Yes, Phil, you were. But that’s always been par for the course with this wayward genius, America’s answer to the even more charismatic Seve Ballesteros.

Even though punters knew what they were getting with the reckless Mickelson, what happened on the 72nd hole was close to unbelievable … the drive clattering through the trees and stopping by a hospitality tent, the second-shot gamble, hoping the ball would curve right to left past the tree directly in front of him, that didn’t come off, the ball plopping down no more than ten yards from where he stood, then into a poached-egg bunker lie and an explosion shot that rolled off the other side.

Two putts and that was Mickelson’s fourth US Open second place (a fifth was to come in 2013 when Justin Rose won) but Winged Foot, along with a one-shot defeat by his playing partner, the ill-fated Payne Stewart who perished a few months later when the Learjet taking him to the Tour Championship fell out of the sky in South Dakota, was the closest he came. It must haunt him still.

Unlikely though it is, Phil at 52 can still join the elite band who have posted career Slams. After all, 14 of his 46 PGA Tour victories have come in his home state of California. And we’re in LA this week. He couldn’t, could he?

Don’t forget it’s only two years since he won a Major and only two months since finding only Jon Rahm too good for him at Augusta. Yet looking at his eight dismal US Open finishes (28-64-MC-48-52-MC-62-MC) since Mickelson becoming Slam-eligible in 2013, maybe taking that 150/1 this week isn’t such a bright idea after all …

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