Phil Mickelson as popular as ever at US Open: ‘Monster ovation’


BROOKLINE, Mass. — If anyone has been wondering how Phil Mickelson has been treated by the fans this week at the U.S. Open despite being painted as a villain in the game as a result of his playing for the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Keegan Bradley answered the question.

“I was putting on the first tee [Tuesday] and Phil was getting ready to tee off, and he got a monster ovation,’’ Bradley said Wednesday, “People [were] cheering. Phil was giving the thumbs up to everybody.

“I think he is going to be just fine. It sounded like the same Phil Mickelson with the crowd as I’ve always heard.’’

Mickelson has been seen signing autographs all week at The Country Club, seemingly as popular as ever.

A smiling Phil Mickelson signs autographs for fans during a U.S. Open practice round.
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Rory McIlroy has his regular caddie — Harry Diamond — back. Diamond missed the Canadian Open last week, which McIlroy won, to be with his wife, who was giving birth. Niall O’Connor, a former Irish Rugby star and a friend of McIlroy’s, subbed for Diamond. O’Connor had previously caddied for McIlroy at the 2019 DP World Championship in Dubai.

“Niall and [my] run has come to an end at this point,’’ McIlroy said. “Pretty good record. Had a fourth in Dubai and a first in Canada. If I ever need someone to jump in for Harry, I’ve got a pretty good substitute there.’’

McIlroy, in the midst of being asked a number of question about LIV Golf, was asked on Zoom from a youngster for Sports Illustrated about the significance of the famous 1913 U.S. Open win at Brookline by former caddie Francis Ouimet, given McIlroy’s relationship with his caddie.

“Funny that the best question comes from a kid,’’ McIlroy joked. “This course and the history of Francis Ouimet, 1913, that’s what’s so good about golf is the history and the tradition and these stories. The fact that he grew up just off the 17th hole here and we’re still talking about it to this day over 100 years on, that’s so cool. That’s the great thing about this sport.’’

Justin Thomas, who grew up in Kentucky, is a Red Sox fan.

“My uncle is from up this area, and he’s a big Red Sox fan, and it just was kind of something that it was no birthday or Christmas gift that was for me from him was anything but Red Sox,’’ Thomas said “I had a lot of jerseys, T-shirts, a lot of hats, a lot of blankets.’’

His favorite players?

“Then my first Red Sox jersey was a David Ortiz jersey,’’ he said. “[My uncle] took me to a Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway for my birthday one year, which was really cool. I think I was probably 12. Went to a Yankees-Red Sox game at old Yankee Stadium. I remember because I had my Nomar [Garciaparra] jersey on, and I was getting yelled at and cussed at and given the finger and I was 9 years old. That was my first introduction to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.’’

Brooks Koepka recently got married and there were pictures all over Instagram. Collin Morikawa said he’s getting married soon, but is avoiding all publicity.

“I definitely know when we’re getting married, but I’m not going to share it,’’ Morikawa said. “We like to keep things private. I think that’s who we are. I’m sure people will find out about it, but in no way is our wedding going to be as big as [Koepka’s]. I think theirs were pretty impressive.’’

If there is a playoff Sunday, it will be a two-hole aggregate played on the first ad 18th holes. If it’s still tied after that, it will go to sudden death.

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