Hopes of Mickelson beating both Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in the race to join Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in that exclusive club have been re-ignited.
The 50-year-old has a spring in his step again after becoming the game’s oldest major winner as he landed a sensational victory in last month’s US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
He’s never managed to get himself in the hunt in the US Open since it became the missing link on his major CV, but, having just pulled off one fairytale, Mickelson has his sights on another one in this week’s edition at Torrey Pines, close to his home city of San Diego.
“It's a unique opportunity because I've never won a US Open,” said Mickelson, who has finished second on a record six occasions in the USGA-run tournament. “It's in my backyard. I have a chance to prepare properly, and I wanted to put in the right work.
“So I've kind of shut off all the noise. I've shut off my phone. I've shut off a lot of the other stuff to where I can kind of focus on this week and really give it my best chance to try to play my best.
“Now, you always need some luck, you always need things to kind of come together and click, but I know that I'm playing well, and I just wanted to give myself every opportunity to be in play at my best.”
While Mickelson has won what is now the Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour three times at Torrey Pines, he has recorded just one top-10 finish in 18 starts at the venue since changes were made to the course by Rees Jones in 2001. His focus in preparing for this week has been on the greens.
“What's happened for me is I spent so many hours as a kid that, when the course was redesigned, all that local knowledge went away,” he said. “Granted, I've played out here a bunch since the redo, but I really haven't spent a lot of time to learn the nuances, and I did that early last week to see if I can get that local knowledge again.
“I needed to kind of relearn and see the breaks and know what the ball does on these greens. Because then when you see the way the ball rolls, you know where you have to be for your approach and you know what kind of shot is the best shot to hit into certain approaches.”
It was Mickelson at his best as he held off playing partner Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to land his sixth major title a few weeks ago as the belief he had himself despite being unable to back up that up with results prior to that was well and truly vindicated.
“It's been a really fun last few weeks,” he said. “It's exciting to have a major championship here where I grew up in San Diego at Torrey Pines, and then to come into this event as the most recent major winner is special as well.
“It's very frustrating and it's tough to be patient. But, when you know that you're playing at a certain level and you are patient and it finally does click, like it did at the PGA, I felt like I had been playing at that level for a couple of months but I wasn't getting it out.
“Then when it all comes together at a perfect time like that was exciting. I'm hopeful that some of the things that I had learned heading in will carry over and give me some more opportunities this summer, because I feel like I'm playing some good golf.
“I'm really looking forward to the week and excited about the way this will showcase to the world what a great job everyone's done to get this course ready and how beautiful it is.”