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Mickelson Laments Lost Chances


In the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Phil Mickelson was shooting for a second straight major title following his Masters victory in April.

But a win was not in the cards for Lefty, who closed with a 2-over 73. He ended up in a tie for fourth with Tiger Woods at 3-over 287, three shots behind champion Graeme McDowell.

Early in his round Mickelson was well aware of the travails of third-round leader Dustin Johnson, who got off to a rotten start and quickly fell from contention, buoying the spirits of Mickelson and other contenders. "I knew early on again when Dustin tripled the second hole it was a wide open tournament," he said.

"I was within three shots of the lead and having that opportunity to win is what's so fun, and it's what's so exciting as a professional golfer, and I knew the entire round pretty much that if I could make some birdies or shoot under par, that I might be able to do it."

But it wasn't meant to be for Mickelson, who once again fell short in his quest for the major title most lacking from his impressive resume. Here's what he had to say Sunday night after his round.

Q. How difficult was it out there today?

PHIL MICKELSON: It was challenging in parts, but I thought that the first six or seven holes were good opportunities to make some birdies. The pins were in the right spots. It was front right on 6. It was back right on 4. The spots where you could get up-and-down from the most around the greens, I thought 3 being in the back gave guys opportunities to get to that pin. I thought it played the first seven holes, some real opportunities to make up some ground.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, obviously Graeme played some incredible golf. I didn't see it I was in front trying to catch him, but I think what happened -- Dustin Johnson's one of the best players in the game, and this course he had a tough time with today and it happens. It just happens as part of this tournament. But to play steady and to withstand some tough holes the way Graeme did and to come out on top, he played some great golf. I think there were a number of guys, though, that as soon as Dustin made a triple, a number of guys, it was a wide open tournament. Many guys had a chance. And it made for kind of an exciting U.S. Open, I thought.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, obviously Graeme played some incredible golf. I didn't see it I was in front trying to catch him, but I think what happened -- Dustin Johnson's one of the best players in the game, and this course he had a tough time with today and it happens. It just happens as part of this tournament. But to play steady and to withstand some tough holes the way Graeme did and to come out on top, he played some great golf. I think there were a number of guys, though, that as soon as Dustin made a triple, a number of guys, it was a wide open tournament. Many guys had a chance. And it made for kind of an exciting U.S. Open, I thought. Q. It seemed like everybody kind of retreated today.

PHIL MICKELSON: No, I wasn't really surprised by that. It just wasn't there. Other than the first six or seven holes. It just wasn't there. It got progressively tougher, the pins placements got progressively more difficult. And there just wasn't the opportunities really for birdie. 18 we're all hitting irons into. Did anybody birdie that hole? I mean that mattered near the end. That pin was so difficult to get the ball close that it just was a -- and it progressed. But again the first seven holes, boy, you could have made up some ground.

Q. The leaders came back to everybody right off the bat. Everybody kind of came back to the pack. Was it frustrating not to be able to make a run at the lead?

PHIL MICKELSON: Sure, it was, because I had opportunities. I had a 15 foot eagle putt on 4. And I make par. That was frustrating. I have a 5-iron into 6, and I make par. That was frustrating. Let's let continuing those strokes go. But at the turn, I was still under for my round. Even par for the tournament, which was the ultimately the winning score. All I had to do was shoot even par in the back, and I'm in a playoff. I wasn't able to do it, obviously, it was tough.

Q. Do you feel content with the way you played this tournament?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought that see for me, yeah I wanted to win, I'm glad that it wasn't a second, but... (Laughter.) Obviously I wanted to win. For me just to have that opportunity throughout the whole round, and I knew early on again when Dustin tripled the second hole it was a wide open tournament. I was within three shots of the lead and having that opportunity to win is what's so fun, and it's what's so exciting as a professional golfer, and I knew the entire round pretty much that if I could make some birdies or shoot under par, that I might be able to do it.

Q. What was it about Pebble Beach today that was so difficult that nobody was able to sink their teeth in and shoot a 66?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not really sure. I kind of know, but I would rather not get into it. It just doesn't sound good. I mean it was just tough. It was a tough day on the golf course.

Q. When you and Ernie were walking off the 15th tee you were still looking back at that 14th green a little bit. What were your thoughts on that green and how it played the whole week?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know if there was a camera behind me, I don't know if it got a good shot of my putt or not from a low angle, but it was interesting to see the route it took.

Q. It went left and then it was dead in the middle?

PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah.

Q. It just fell off.

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, it wiggled left the first few feet, and then it wiggled right and was going right in the middle and then it wiggled left, right at the hole and went over the edge and I thought that it -- I thought it was going to snake in there and it just didn't quite do it.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No, not really we didn't talk about that.

Q. (Inaudible.)

PHIL MICKELSON: No. Yeah, when you're dealing with a U.S. Open you don't really -- I don't talk as much during a U.S. Open. It's just such a grind that you're so worried about just what you're doing that it's very difficult to think about other stuff.

Q. Considering who has won U.S. Opens here, Phil, are you surprised it's not a more remarkable name such as you or Tiger?

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought that Graeme was playing very well headed in. He had won his previous tournament. He's played very solid on a large stage a number times. So from a players point of view this wasn't a surprise, no.

Q. Can an argument be made that an Open Sunday is the wildest day in sports?

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't know. I haven't been thinking about that. Maybe, I don't know. It was an interesting day.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.