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Nation, World Sports

U.S. Open notebook: Phil Mickelson withdraws from U.S. Open

| Thursday, June 15, 2017, 9:33 a.m.
Phil Mickelson gestures to fans on the 18th hole during the final round of the St. Jude Classic golf tournament, Sunday, June 11, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Phil Mickelson gestures to fans on the 18th hole during the final round of the St. Jude Classic golf tournament, Sunday, June 11, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

ERIN, Wis. — Phil Mickelson withdrew from the U.S. Open a little more than an hour after the sun climbed over Erin Hills, realizing there was no chance to get from his daughter's high school graduation in California and make his Thursday afternoon tee time.

This is the first time Mickelson has missed the U.S. Open since he failed to qualify in 1993.

Roberto Diaz of Mexico, the next alternate in line, took his place and at least was allowed to get some rest. Diaz had to be at Erin Hills for the 6:45 a.m. start and wait until Mickelson's tee time at 2:20 p.m. in case anyone else had pulled out with injury.

Mickelson had been holding out hope that with the potential of storms over Wisconsin, there might be a long enough delay that he could still make his tee time. His daughter, Amanda, is the class president at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif., and was to give the commencement speech.

The graduation started at noon Wisconsin time. Mickelson figured he would need at least a four-hour delay at Erin Hills, where the course has been closed twice in the last three days because of thunderstorms.

Instead, the U.S. Open began under sunshine and with practically no threat of bad weather all day.

Putter abandons Spieth

Jordan Spieth figured he had 15 good birdie chances Thursday. He converted one.

“I hit the ball phenomenal,” he said after carding a 1-over-par 73. “It was maybe the best driving round I've had in my life. Just didn't make anything.”

Once viewed as the game's best putter, the 2015 U.S. Open champion found the fairway on 13 of his 14 drives and hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation. And yet ...

“I had a couple of lip-outs. I left two short, and then I miss one right and the next one left,” Spieth said. “High, low, short and long. By the end of the round, the hole starts to look smaller and smaller.”

Showing Love

Davis Love III's advice not only saved son Dru on the 17th hole, but also might have saved some spectators.

Dru Love faced a downwind shot of nearly 190 yards from the rough. His dad, the two-time Ryder Cup captain who is caddying for him this week, suggested he use a pitching wedge.

“I flew it 200 yards, all the way to the back of the green,” the younger Love said. “If he hadn't been there to tell me, I would have hit an 8-iron or maybe a hard 9 and soared it into the grandstands.”

Love, who shot a 1-under 71, called the experience “awesome” and said of his father: “He has all the experience. He's seen all the lies and all of the possible bounces and fliers. That's stuff you're not going to get if I had one of my best friends caddie for me.”

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