Phil Mickelson says he will not accept a special invitation to compete in the US Open if offered one by the USGA.
Mickelson is currently not exempt for the only major he needs to win to complete a career grand slam. He has finished runner-up in the event a record six times, including at this year’s venue Winged Foot in 2006.
Ernie Els and Jack Nicklaus are among the players to have received special exemptions into the US Open, but speaking ahead of his title defence at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Mickelson told a press conference: “I won’t accept it.
“So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.”
Mickelson’s status as a five-time major champion makes him a strong candidate to receive an invite, despite his poor relationship with the USGA.
The 49-year-old has often been critical of the way US Open courses have been set up and was famously penalised for running to deliberately hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round at Shinnecock Hills in 2018.
A share of third place in last week’s Saudi International lifted Mickelson from 86th in the world rankings to 72nd and he can qualify for Winged Foot by being in the top 60 either on May 18 or June 15.
“I don’t want a special exemption,” Mickelson added. “I think I’ll get in the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there. If I don’t, I don’t.
“I don’t want a sympathy spot. If I am good enough to make it and qualify, then I need to earn my spot there.”