Mickelson finally visits Chambers Bay, plays front nine

A red Chevrolet Suburban hurried around the bend toward the Chambers Bay pro shop – only to have to come to a complete stop.

The passenger door opened. Out jumped short-game golf coach Dave Pelz to move a barricade.

And then the driver’s side window rolled down, revealing the first real superstar golfer to visit the University Place links-style course before the 115th U.S. Open next month.

Phil Mickelson held true to his statement a few weeks ago that he would see Chambers Bay well in advance of the June 18-21 championship. That time came on a steamy Thursday as the five-time major championship winner spent 3 1/2 hours practicing on the front nine holes with Pelz and longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.

Trapped behind the barricade, Mickelson agreed to a quick interview with a local television station.

“Glad I spent some time here,” Mickelson said.

Impressions about Chambers Bay?

“A very interesting course,” he added.

Finally, Mickelson was asked if anything about it surprised him. He responded by saying that Chambers Bay, indeed, closely resembled the type of links course found in Great Britain.

And with that, Mickelson sped off into the afternoon.

It is easy to see why Mickelson is making such an investment in this U.S. Open on a new course. For starters, he is a six-time national open runner-up – and this major is the only one he hasn’t won.

And at 44, he might be running out of chances to finally win one of these championships.

He arrived mid-morning Thursday and headed down to the course before noon.

And the study quickly turned extensive. Mickelson spent more than a half-hour on the first hole alone, especially around the green, hitting all sorts of different types of shots.

By the time he reached the severe downhill ninth hole, a long par 3, a few folks had gathered around the fence to see Mickelson’s tee shot. It landed pin high before releasing 20 feet past the hole.

Mickelson will play the two weeks leading into the U.S. Open – at The Memorial and FedEx St. Jude Classic.