Mickelson unsure if he'd accept special exemption for U.S. Open
Phil Mickelson has yet to qualify for the 2021 U.S. Open and remains undecided on whether he'll accept an exemption to play Torrey Pines if the offer is extended to him.
"I don't know. I just don't know the answer to that right now," Mickelson said, according to ESPN's Bob Harig. "I'm scheduled to go through qualifying the day after the Memorial (Tournament in Ohio)."
The 50-year-old currently ranks 113th in the world and needs to reach the top 60 by either May 24 or June 7 to secure a spot in the U.S. Open. If he fails to do so, he'll be forced to take a more traditional route through sectional qualifying.
Mickelson's indecisiveness on potentially accepting a special invitation is a change of tune compared to when he was presented with the same scenario last February.
"I won't accept it," he said at the time, according to Harig. "So 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 think I'll get in the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don't, I don't.
"I don't want a sympathy spot. If I'm good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there."
Asked if hometown Torrey Pines is impacting his opinion on accepting a special exemption, the native of San Diego responded: "The venue doesn't make a difference."
The five-time major winner has played 31 U.S. Opens during his career and only missed two since making his debut as an amateur in 1990. He did not qualify in 1993 and skipped playing at Erin Hills in 2017 to attend his daughter's high school graduation.
Mickelson is a six-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, which remains the only major he needs to win to claim the career grand slam.
The U.S. Open has granted 34 players, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Hogan, special exemptions for the national championship. Ernie Els was the most recent to accept the honor in 2019.
The United States Golf Association typically announces special exemptions about a month before the tournament begins, according to Harig. The 2021 U.S. Open starts June 17.