Phil Mickelson will not accept a special exemption into this year's U.S. Open, saying it would be a "sympathy spot."
Mickelson, who turns 50 in June, endured a difficult 2019, missing nine cuts in 23 events to drop down the World Golf Ranking.
The five-time major champion, still only missing a U.S. Open to complete a career Grand Slam, is ranked 72nd. He needs to crack the top 60 leading into the event, or win the Masters, the PGA Championship or The Players Championship. If he fails to do any of that, then he can go through qualifying.
Mickelson, a six-time runner-up at the U.S. Open, said he wanted to earn his place at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.
"I won't accept it, so I'm 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," he told a news conference Wednesday ahead of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Asked why, the American responded: "I just won't."
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2020
Mickelson added: "[The U.S. Golf Association has] never been an organization that likes to give out special exemptions. I don't want a special exemption.
"I think I'll get into the tournament. If I get in, I deserve to be there, and 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."