“I kind of feel like it was really inspiring to watch Phil out there at 49 years old on Sunday being as gritty and determined and competitive as I’ve maybe ever seen him,” McDowell said. “That’s really cool to see.”
Mickelson may not have been the leading man at the weekend’s start, but he remains Pebble Beach’s favored son. Whichever way the area’s wicked winds are blowing, Mickelson can count on having the fans’ support as an emotional tailwind.
His gallery on Thursday included Susan Ridder, who, accompanied by her husband, was attending her first golf tournament. She wore a pink T-shirt with “Go Phil” written in glitter across her chest, sandwiched between the words, “Grand Slam.” On the back was a list that included the years that Mickelson won each major. At the bottom was: US Open, 2019.
Ridder said she was rooting for Mickelson because she likes his go-for-broke style. “He makes you think that if he can hit that crazy shot on the course, you can too,” Ridder said.
Those following Mickelson during his first round also included a fan whose cellphone ringtone went off as Mickelson took his putter back for a 2-foot par attempt on his 12th hole, the par-4 third, within range of an AT&T suite. Mickelson flinched at the noise and missed the putt.
He also was distracted on the 15th tee on Friday when someone in his gallery, attempting to get the attention of a friend, whistled during Mickelson’s backswing, leading to an errant shot that set up another bogey.
Mickelson’s gallery during the second round also included a sea gull that tried to take off with his ball on the 10th fairway, after Mickelson had crushed a drive. The sea gull could not quite wrap his beak around the ball. He dropped it farther from the green before losing interest and flying off.
After his Saturday round, Mickelson did not sound like someone ready to abandon his avocation anytime soon. He described Pebble Beach as “a spiritual place” and said, “I can’t help but walk this golf course and feel grateful for all the great things in my life.”