David Howell has played only three rounds in the United States Open, and is a total of 23 over par for the event.
But Britain's top-ranked player and runaway Order of Merit leader is confident he can contend for his first major title at Winged Foot this week.
On his tournament debut at Bethpage in 2002, Howell shot rounds of 78 and 81 to finish 144th out of 156 starters. Last year he had an opening 74 at Pinehurst before being forced to withdraw with an abdominal injury suffered on the range.
However, since returning from that injury Howell has played like a man possessed, winning his first European Tour title for six years, in Munich, then outscoring playing partner Tiger Woods on the final day to win the inaugural HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai.
The 30-year-old also defeated Mickelson on his way to the quarter-finals of the World Match Play earlier this year, and finished 19th in the US Masters - to follow his 11th on debut at Augusta last year - before cruising to a five-stroke victory in the BMW Championship at Wentworth.
Such a run of form has taken the Swindon professional into the world's top ten for the first time, with Sergio Garcia the only European player ranked above him, and confidence is sky-high.
"I have never come to a major before feeling I could win it," Howell said. "I am starting to realise if I play great for four days at any of the majors there is no reason I wouldn't be in with a shout of winning.
"I have yet to do that. I still need to improve a bit to be honest with you. But from this year onwards is the first time I would even allow myself to think about contending in a major because my game just wasn't good enough before.
"Before I was just trying to make the cut. If I miss the cut now it would be very disappointing. Three years ago I thought finishing 40th was pretty good. I am not going to think like that now. It needs to be better than that to be a good week."
Howell has made the halfway cut in only five majors and was "in awe" of Ryder Cup team-mates Garcia and Darren Clarke during the record victory at Oakland Hills. But the former Walker Cup star is starting to believe he belongs among the game's elite.
"I know I am getting better," he added. "I didn't think I was that good because I wasn't that good. As I get better I am going to believe it more. I am much more comfortable. I come here this week and look around and there is no-one here I haven't beaten before. There is no-one here I haven't played with before. I am playing against the same guys every week so the majors field doesn't feel intimidating any more."
No European has won a major since Paul Lawrie at Carnoustie in 1999, and none have won the US Open itself since Tony Jacklin in 1970.
But with 14 British and Irish players alone in the 156-strong field, Howell believes it is just a matter of time before someone takes inspiration from Michael Campbell's victory last year.
He said: "Back in the 70s and 80s it was only the top three or four guys getting in this event, now it looks like a European Tour event half the time. You see 20 or 30 guys which is fantastic. Everyone is getting more used to it so it should become easier for us to do well in, if only through weight of numbers.
"Michael (Campbell) is a European Tour player through and through, we know him well and he did do it so why not?
"It will be interesting to see if that feeds down to the Europeans and the Brits.
"If he can do it, I'm not saying just anyone can, but you take confidence from that.
"That's very much what happened at the US Masters in the 80s and 90s, one of them won it and then the next one thought: 'Well I beat him every other week so why not?' That opened the floodgates.
"I have only played two US Opens, one I was injured and the other I got injured in. In theory it shouldn't suit me but in theory US Open courses suit the better play-ers. It is the ultimate test of golf - it is just a bloody tough course.
"I am certainly in better shape to cope with the course than I was three, four or five years ago.
"Now is the time to start judging how I can do in these things."