• World rankings

Only US Open separates Mickelson from greatness

ESPN staff
July 22, 2013

Phil Mickelson believes only the US Open title now separates him from cementing his place among golf's greatest ever players.

Mickelson claimed the maiden Open Championship of his career at Muirfield on Sunday, shooting a final round of 66 to win by three shots - in the process sealing his fifth major title.

The 43-year-old has now won the Masters, US PGA and Open titles in his career, meaning the US Open - an event he has finished second in six times - is the only major that still eludes him from the career grand slam.

The left-hander believes winning that event would cement his status as one of the finest golfers of all-time.

"I think that if I'm able to win the US Open and complete the career grand slam, I think that that's the sign of the complete great player," Mickelson said. "And I'm a leg away. [But] it's been a tough leg for me!

"But I think that's the sign. I think there's five players that have done that [won the career grand slam]. And those five players are the greats of the game. You look at them with a different light.

"I'm very hopeful that I will win the US Open, but it has been elusive for me. And yet this championship [the Open] has been much harder for me to get."

Mickelson, who rose to No. 2 in the world rankings as a result of his victory in Scotland, was delighted to bounce back so quickly after missing out on the US Open in what he described as "heartbreaking" circumstances last month at Merion.

"It's a huge difference in emotions, as you can imagine," he noted. "Being so down after the US Open, to come back and use it as motivation, to use it as a springboard, knowing that I'm playing well and to push me a little bit extra to work harder, to come out on top, in a matter of a month to turn it around it really feels amazing.

"I thought that it could go either way. You have to be resilient in this game because losing is such a big part of it. And after losing the US Open, it could have easily gone south, where I was so deflated I had a hard time coming back.

"But I looked at it and thought I was playing really good golf. I had been playing some of the best in my career. And I didn't want it to stop me from potential victories this year, and some potential great play. And I'm glad I didn't, because I worked a little bit harder. And in a matter of a month I'm able to change entirely the way I feel."

World Rankings: 1. Tiger Woods (USA), 2. Phil Mickelson (USA), 3. Rory McIlroy (NIR), 4. Adam Scott (AUS), 5. Justin Rose (ENG), 6. Matt Kuchar (USA), 7. Brandt Snedeker (USA), 8. Graeme McDowell (NIR), 9. Luke Donald (ENG), 10. Lee Westwood (ENG), 11. Steve Stricker (USA), 12. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), 13. Charl Schwartzel (RSA), 14. Ian Poulter (ENG), 15. Ernie Els (RSA), 16. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 17. Keegan Bradley (USA), 18. Bubba Watson (USA), 19. Jason Day (AUS), 20. Henrik Stenson (SWE).

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