Mickelson talks U.S. Open prep, '99 at Pinehurst

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

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Hilton Head, SC - Harbour Town Golf Links

12:05:02 PM ET. 04/18/2014




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T1K.J. Choi-417-5
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Phil Mickelson plans to make two to three trips to Pinehurst before the 2014 U.S. Open, he said Friday on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive."

Mickelson, who has finished second six times at the U.S. Open, said he'll play two to three rounds per trip as he looks to "develop that same local knowledge as I would (have) on my home course."

"A lot of it is not just playing, but kind of studying the course on where the ball wants to go, where it's going to end up, and then hitting those shots," Mickelson said. "Half the battle is knowing where to go and where not to go."

The 43-year-old also talked about his past U.S. Opens at Pinehurst, in 1999 and 2005, the former of which resulted in a runner-up finish to Payne Stewart. Mickelson's first child, Amanda, was born the next day.

"(The) '99 (U.S. Open) is a tournament I'll always remember and I'll actually cherish, too, because a lot of great things from that event even though it was a heartbreaking loss," Mickelson said. "And one of the great things that happened was Payne Stewart winning that tournament. He played some great golf, but also having lost him four months later, it was very meaningful that he was to win there. Also, the next day at 11 o'clock in the morning, Amy's water broke and we would've been in a playoff and I would've been flying back anyways, so it just turned out the way it was supposed to.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to go back there next year, take some of that emotion and apply it to my game, play well and capture my first U.S. Open. I think that would be such an emotional venue."

Mickelson also touched other topics including his late-season schedule and the 2016 Olympics. He emphasized the desire to cut back on events later in the year, saying tournaments such as the FedEx Cup Playoff and World Golf Championships events might have to "take a backseat."

"I physically, and mentally, just wasn't able to perform at the level I expect," Mickelson said of his performance level late in 2013.

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