Mickelson: Merion loss was tougher than Winged Foot

Phil_open_300Phil Mickelson finished tied for second at this year's U.S. Open at Merion -- his record sixth runner-up finish at the major he covets most -- and he told the Golf Channel's Jason Sobel that this near-miss was more difficult to take than his collapse at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when he made a double on the 18th hole after hitting his drive off a hospitality tent.

“I was playing so well and the golf course is suited for me and everything just set up perfectly,” he says. “Winged Foot, there’s no way I was going to hit that last fairway. I hadn’t hit a fairway all day. That would have been pretty cool to win that one having driven it as badly as I did. It would have been unheard of. But Merion I was playing really well. Still am.”

Mickelson said that two shots -- his pitching wedge off the tee at
the short par-3 13th and his approach on the par-4 15th -- derailed his
chances to win.

“I misclubbed on 13,” he admits. “I never should have hit a pitching wedge; I should have hit a gap and take the back out of play. Because if I overcook to the pin, it goes long, so that was a misclub. … We had a lot of wind. We had wind swinging in and left to right. It picked up when we got there. I thought, ‘Gosh, if I hit a gap wedge into this wind, I wonder if it will carry.’ It just kind of came up at a bad time. That’s when the rain came. I started putting on 12 and the wind and the rain picked up. We got to the 13th tee box and I ended up taking one more club.

“And then I quit on 15. I had a perfect gap wedge. If I hit it hard and fly it, get it past the hole, it should come back down that hill. I quit on it and put it in such a bad spot.”

Still, Mickelson said his play at Merion gives him confidence despite the disappointment.
“I had a good chance to win and I’m certainly bummed that I didn’t, but I
can’t wait to get back out and play. It’s exciting for me, because I’m
just starting to play at the level I always knew I could.”
Photo: Phil Mickelson in the final round of the 2013 U.S. Open (Getty Images).

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by Kevin Cunningham