All the early morning drama at the start of the U.S. Open centered around two decidedly non-golf stories -- the weather, and Phil Mickelson's travel arrangements. The incoming line of severe storms that's rolled through the midwestern part of the country and expected to hit the Philadelphia area by mid-morning has had all the golf writers on-site making their best, and corny derecho jokes. Mickelson's "bold" attempt to fly a redeye through the night and make his 7:11 a.m. ET tee time was the other item that had the assembled press holding their breath.
Mickelson, however, made it to Merion with plenty of time to spare and was on the grounds and ready to roll by 5:30 a.m., just an hour after his plane from San Diego touched down in Philly. Mickelson, a five-time runner-up at America's national championship, opted to fly back home for his daughter's eighth-grade graduation on Wednesday night. His flight itinerary was updated throughout the day on Wednesday, with the latest "reports" that FigJam might not land until close to 5 a.m. The severe weather line moving across the country could have complicated things, but of course, Mickelson was rolling in a comfortable private jet and he had no issues jumping right off the plan and up to Ardmore.
The unconventional preparatory schedule will raise eyebrows and draw consternation from some, but at this point, why should Phil really care? Why not mix things up in the pursuit of the white whale of your career?
Phil didn't really seem to think it was an issue, and told Tim Rosaforte that the travel dash is a regular course of business -- something he always does for outings. It's just that this outing is the first round of major that's haunted his entire career. After last year's disappointing showing at Olympic, maybe the lack of prep is a good thing.
But at least now the drama, and the story, is over. Mickelson's jet back to the course may result in a "hurry up and wait" scenario if this weather does move through and force the USGA to suspend play. The bad stuff is supposed to start hitting around 9 a.m. and stick around for most of the day.