June 11, 2006

Mickelson happy to get US Open week started

By Larry Fine

HARRISON, New York (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson shot a final
round of one-over-par 72 on Sunday at the Barclays Classic
before expressing eagerness for what has really been on his
mind this week -- the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

"It is exciting that the U.S. Open is now here," said
Mickelson, who tied for 18th place at Westchester Country Club,
nine shots behind winner Vijay Singh.

"The golf course over at Winged Foot is going to be very
difficult. It's one of the hardest set-ups heading in that I've
seen, and we're all going to have our work cut out for us. It's
going to be a difficult test of golf.

"We're also all looking forward to it. We only get our
national championship once a year, and we're all ready."

Mickelson may be more ready than most.

The lefthander has logged more than half a dozen practice
rounds at Winged Foot recently, even heading over there on
Sunday for some golf before the final round of the Barclays.

"I think that I've learned the golf course as well as I
possibly can heading into the tournament, and hopefully come
Thursday my game will be sharp and I'll be ready to play."

Mickelson is coming into the U.S. Open with victories in
golf's last two majors -- the U.S. PGA Championship last August
at Baltusrol and April's triumph in the U.S. Masters.

"Winged Foot has so many nuances to it," he said. "Every
green has a little roll or a little knoll, and it's very hard
to pick it all up in the first trip or two. So I ended up
spending quite a bit more time over there because of that."

The 35-year-old American said the Westchester course was
also good preparation for Winged Foot -- up to a point.

"It's a very similar golf course here at Westchester than
at Winged Foot although Winged Foot is comparatively probably a
little on steroids now with the rough grown so high, the
fairways so tight," he quipped.

"I guess we have our own steroid problem in golf, and we're
going to see it next week."