Phil Mickelson says he would decline US Open special exemption if he doesn't qualify in 2020
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Phil Mickelson says he would decline US Open special exemption if he doesn’t qualify in 2020

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Phil Mickelson needs to win the US Open to complete the career Grand Slam. Nearing 50, Mickelson's US Open career has been marked by a half-dozen runner-up finishes -- a record for the event.

In search of a sixth major title and an historic achievement, Mickelson isn't currently qualified for the US Open.

Mickelson's five-year US Open exemption for winning the 2013 British Open Championship expired in 2018, but Mickelson qualified last year for Pebble Beach with his world-ranking status.

For the 2020 US Open, however, Mickelson hasn't met any of the criteria that would land him an exemption from qualifying. He could get into the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking by two separate cut-off dates. He could win twice on the PGA Tour. He could win the Masters, Players or PGA Championship.

Failing all those, the USGA could extend Mickelson a special exemption to compete at Winged Foot, where he was a par on the 72nd hole away from winning the national championship. Winged Foot again hosts in 2020, and the far-out possibility of a Mickelson redemption story is tasty. However, Mickelson said he will not take a special exemption from the USGA if offered.

"I won't accept it," said Mickelson on Wednesday at the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

"I am either going to get in the field on my own or I'll have to try to qualify. I'm not going to take a special exemption, I just won't. The USGA have never been an organisation that likes to give out exemptions, special exemptions, but I don't want a special exemption."

Mickelson, currently 72nd in the Official World Golf Ranking, believes he can get in on his own merit. If he doesn't, then he'll suit up for 36-hole sectional qualifying.

"I think I'll get in the tournament and, if I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don't, I don't," he said. "I don't want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there."

Of course, Mickelson has a complicated history with the USGA, which presents the championship. He has frequently been critical of the organization, not only for how they present the US Open but also regulate the game's rules and equipment standards. He has often said the USGA is a bunch of "amateurs" who have a big say in how the professional game is run.

At the 2018 US Open, Mickelson embarrassed himself and the USGA at Shinnecock Hills when he ran after a moving putt and swatted it back toward the hole mid-round on the weekend. Mickelson was penalized by the USGA but not disqualified for the breach of rules.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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