Phil Mickelson will give someone a chance to win as much as he does at the U.S. Open when he returns next month to Pinehurst, North Carolina, the site of the first of his six runner-up finishes at golf’s second major championship.
As part of his sponsorship with Callaway Golf Co., golfers who test one of the company’s new drivers or fairway woods through the tournament’s final round on June 15 will receive a code to enter the contest, which awards the winner the same dollar amount Mickelson earns at the U.S. Open. If Mickelson wins the tournament -- the only of the sport’s four major titles to elude him -- his paycheck would be about $1.5 million.
Mickelson, 43, finished second at the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst when Payne Stewart birdied the final hole to win by a stroke. Mickelson was also runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and last year, when he earned about $700,000 at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia. Callaway Chief Executive Chip Brewer said it would be a “dream come true” for Mickelson to get his first U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst.
“Phil is one of those guys who’s charismatic, he moves the needle, and it would just be great for golf and our industry combined to see Phil do well,” Brewer, who joined the company in March 2012, said in a telephone interview.
Mickelson’s season has been erratic so far.
He missed the cut in three of the past seven tournaments he’s played -- including the Masters Tournament and Players Championship -- withdrew from another and had top-20 finishes in the other three. Mickelson’s best finish this season was a tie for 11th at the Wells Fargo Championship three weeks ago. Mickelson was two strokes off the lead after shooting a third-round 63 that was one shot shy of the tournament record, then followed it up by shooting 76 in the final round.
“He hasn’t played as well as he’d like to at the start of the year,” Brewer said.
Mickelson two weeks ago missed the cut for weekend play at the Players Championship with rounds of 75 and 70 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and said afterward he felt “mentally soft.”
“I’m having a hard time focusing on the shot, a hard time seeing the ball go in the hole. But the physical game doesn’t feel bad,” Mickelson said on May 9. “I feel like it’s more of a mental issue, and I’ll go home and see if I can work on it.”
Mickelson since 2004 has been sponsored by Callaway, which said it had a $55 million increase last year in the sales of its drivers and fairway woods. Led by its new Big Bertha line, Callaway had the top-selling driver group in February and March of this year, according to Golf Datatech, LLC, a Florida-based company that tracks the industry.
Mickelson will play two more events before the U.S. Open -- the Memorial Tournament from May 29 through June 1 in Dublin, Ohio, and the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis from June 5-8. The U.S. Open is scheduled for June 12-15 at the Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course.
Mickelson two years ago received $18,593 when he tied for 65th place at the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. It was his second-worst U.S. Open finish since 1996. He tied for 33rd and earned $35,759 the last time the U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst in 2005.