The subject of an upcoming Phil Mickelson viral social media post may be the five-time major champion doing a rain dance before the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pebble Beach.
Speaking to the media following a 2-under par 70 in the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide on Thursday, Mickelson echoed many of the sentiments voiced in the controversial “USGA Confidential” story that ran on GolfDigest.com earlier this week.
Asked a series of questions about the U.S. Open, his quest for the career grand slam and course setups by the USGA, Mickelson didn’t hold back when asked if the USGA had ever gotten the setups “terribly wrong at Pebble.”
“I’ve played, what, 29 U.S. Opens. One hundred percent of time they have messed it up if it doesn’t rain. The rain is the governor,” Mickelson said. “That’s the only governor they have. And if they don’t have a governor they don’t know how to control themselves.
“Rain is the governor. If it doesn’t rain, a hundred percent of the time it will be messed up.”
If the rain that Mickelson is hoping for does come, there is something that the USGA has done that will make things better for the players, Mickelson said. Their ability to fix spike marks and other imperfections on the greens under the new rules has allowed for a more even playing field.
“When we played in 2010, the poa annua was soft, spongy, we had all kinds of holes and cleat marks and so forth,” Mickelson explained. “At the speeds they were at, it was impossible to try to putt, it was putting like a waffle iron.
“This year with the rules change where we’re able to fix the impurities with the spike holes and impressions, I don’t see that being a problem this year. I think that’s been the biggest, most positive change is the ability (to fix imperfections). To be able to tap that down and smooth it out from inside of five or six feet makes it different for the afternoon play. And at Pebble, I think that would be the biggest opportunity for it to be an issue and I think that the rules change will nullify it.”
Even with the issues on the greens alleviated, the USGA’s setup will be one of the biggest storylines this week, which means Mickelson and his peers will be looking skyward for some assistance.
“Well, it’s just based on history,” Mickelson said. “My 30 years, and 30 years before that. So I think we’re all pulling for a little rain.”