GULLANE, Scotland —
Mickelson finished toward the bottom of the pack in 2002 at Muirfield. He missed the nasty weather on Saturday that derailed so many other players, but failed to take advantage of the calm conditions and shot 76. He tried to come down on Tuesday of last week for a practice round, but he didn’t make it. That means he will be spending more time playing the course than he does at other majors.
Fatigue factor: Ernie Els has won major championships 18 years apart, and one big difference is the reaction of the media and the time commitments. It can be exhausting, and last year’s win at Royal Lytham & St. Annes was even tougher because he wanted to honor his sponsor’s commitment by playing in the Canadian Open the next week. He never really recovered the rest of the year.
It wasn’t like that in 1994 when he won the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
“I think I did Matt Lauer and “Today” — Katie Couric was there still back in the day — did a little thing with them,” he said. “Went back to the 18th green at Oakmont, and that was the only thing. I didn’t even own a house in those days. I got back on my plane, myself and (wife) Leizl, and flew back to London. We rented a cottage from Renton Laidlaw, and we just hid from the world there.
“The whole thing has changed a lot, especially since ‘94,” he said. “There are so many story lines that people want. So it can get very, very busy.”
Hanson’s back: Peter Hanson has been struggling with a sore back, and he’s still not sure if he’ll tee it up Thursday. The Swede said it was 50-50 he would play.
“I thought the disk problem in my back was getting better, but then it starts to feel worse,” Hanson said.