- US Open
Mickelson risks missing tee-time with travel plans
Phil Mickelson will only arrive in Philadelphia for this week's US Open just over two hours before his scheduled Thursday morning tee-time.
Mickelson, tipped in many quarters to contend this week at Merion after finishing second in last week's PGA Tour event in Houston, is arriving to the course late after attending his daughter's graduation in San Diego, on the United States' west coast, on Wednesday afternoon.
The Golf Channel has confirmed from Mickelson's camp that the four-time major champion will fly out from San Diego at 8.15pm local time, landing in Philadelphia at roughly 4.30 am on Thursday.
From there, the left-hander will have just over two hours to get to Merion's East Course, where he is due to tee off at 7.11am alongside Keegan Bradley and Steve Stricker.
Mickelson may struggle to get a full warm-up in, as the range this week is located one mile away from the main course, on Merion's West layout. It has been estimated that players will need to factor in around 35 minutes to get from the driving range to the 1st or 11th tees - with fears that some will struggle with the logistics and be late for their tee-times.
The USGA said on Wednesday that it was prepared to offer some leeway to those players late for scheduled start times due to travel problems - although that is unlikely to apply to Mickelson.
"Ultimately if there's a committee error, if you will, if we're not providing transportation for the player, it would be allowed under the rules that we could waive a penalty of disqualification for being late to the tee," USGA executive director Mike Davis said. "But ultimately it is the player's responsibility to get to his first tee ground on the time."
Most players have been learning the subtleties of Merion since late last week. Mickelson had been planning to get to the course on Monday for a couple of days of practice, but changed his plans after heavy rain that day - choosing instead to fine-tune his game at home.
This is not the first time family commitments have caused Mickelson to tweak his US Open plans. Back in 1999, when he was contending for the title, Mickelson was ready to walk off the course at a moment's notice, as his wife was expecting the birth of their first child - the same child whose graduation he is at this week.
Mickelson has never won the US Open, despite a number of near-misses.