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Phil Mickelson rips USGA after frustrating finish at The Players

‘It’s the U.S. Open,’ says Phil Mickelson, who’s no fan of the USGA. ‘Guys are going to play it no matter what.’

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round Three Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Phil Mickelson does not shy away from controversy. Indeed, the World Golf Hall of Famer often creates conflict where there seems to be none, and Sunday’s parting blast at U.S. Open organizer USGA after a frustrating weekend at The Players Championship was pretty much par for the course for the popular Lefty.

The six-time runner-up in his national championship, Mickelson (78-71 on Saturday and Sunday to finish at 3-over for the week) has yet to play a practice round at Erin Hills ahead of next month’s U.S. Open. But that did not stop him from taking a shot at the R&A’s North American counterpart.

“I don’t know if doing one thing right is going to fix that,” Mickelson said in response to a reporter’s question about whether players may view the USGA more favorably if the Wisconsin venue receives rave reviews.

With the U.S. Open coming up in a month, and the USGA and its recent woes concerning the burned out greens at Chambers Bay in 2015 and the rules debacle involving eventual winner Dustin Johnson last year at Oakmont still topics of conversation, inquiring minds naturally turned to Mickelson for his take on the tournament he wants so desperately to win.

The five-time majors champion has made something of a cottage industry of complaining about the USGA (the “ridiculous change” in the governing body’s grooves rule in 2010, the “terrible” third hole at Merion during the 2013 U.S. Open, the “dangerous” rough at Oakmont in 2007), among other targets (see: Tom Watson, 2014 Ryders Cup). Mickelson even criticized the USGA, which plays no role in the event, after the 2016 British Open, saying the R&A sets up its courses to be far more fair than those run by the U.S. rules arm.

And while other players were far more vocal about what a “disgrace” the conditions at Chambers Bay were, Mickelson nevertheless is the go-to guy when it comes to sound bites.

“I don’t think it really matters either way,” Mickelson said about whether all will be forgiven if the USGA gets things right at Erin Hills. “It’s the U.S. Open; guys are going to play it no matter what.”