If Phil Mickelson is going to win his first U.S. Open, he's going to have to make his tee time on Thursday. He'll be cutting it close.
Mickelson will be en route to Merion Golf Club from San Diego on Wednesday night, taking a flight into the Philadelphia area after flying home to attend the eighth-grade graduation ceremony for his daughter Amanda. According to multiple reports, including Golf Channel and USA Today, Mickelson will leave from Carlsbad, Calif., at 8:15 p.m. PT and is anticipated to land in Philadelphia at about 4:30 a.m. ET.
So what, it's the red eye? The problem is that Mickelson's tee time is 7:11 a.m. ET.
Let's say Mickelson lands on schedule at 4:30 a.m. He'll need to get off the plane, grab his luggage and get into his transportation to leave the airport. At its briefest, that's 15 minutes. Now it's 4:45 a.m.
Depending on which Philadelphia-area airport he flies into (we looked at three), the quickest Google Maps says he can get to Merion is 25 minutes, probably closer to 30. Now it's 5:10 a.m.
Mickelson finds a parking spot, unloads his clubs and goes into the locker room to change, maybe grab a shower. All told, it should be about 5:30 a.m. by the time he's ready to start practicing.
To warm up, Mickelson is going to have to head over to the West course, which has been set up by the USGA this week as the driving range for the field. Players have to take a shuttle to get there, and the USGA suggests that players should afford 20 minutes each way. That's 40 minutes. If he just takes the round trip on the shuttle and doesn't get off to hit a shot, it would be 6:10 a.m.
That means Mickelson has almost exactly one hour to practice. Really, he should afford 5-10 minutes to show up at the tee and get ready for introductions with playing partners Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker.
So, to prepare to win the 2013 U.S. Open, Mickelson has no more than 45 minutes to get ready.
If any of the unfolding events don't happen as efficiently as they can, that window gets smaller.