After Rickie Fowler failed to qualify for next week’s U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson offered to give up his no longer needed exemption to Fowler.
A week before Mickelson, 50, became the oldest player to ever win a major at the PGA Championship, he accepted a special exemption to play the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.
Lefty has finished runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times but has never won it. With Mickelson winning three Masters, two PGA Championship and one Open Championship in his career, he’ll have an opportunity to complete the career grand slam close to home.
Initially, Mickelson said he wouldn’t accept the special invite.
“I won’t accept it,” Mickelson said in February 2020. “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. They have never been an organization that likes to give out exemptions, special exemptions. I don’t want 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.”
But after eventually changing his mind, Mickelson didn’t need the sympathy spot anyway by winning the PGA Championship and jumping from No. 116 to 32 in the Official Golf World Rankings.
No, Mickelson can’t actually give his exemption to Fowler – even with the support of many fans on Twitter – but Mickelson is once again using his personality that makes him one of the most favorable figures in the history of the sport.