Just weeks after word spread that his wife, Amy Mickelson, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and her husband took a leave of absence from the PGA tour, Phil Mickelson was competing for what would be his first career U.S. Open title this past weekend.
Mickelson had been there before. In 1999, Mickelson fell just one stroke short of Payne Stewart who saved par with a 15 footer on 18 at Pinehurst to hold off Mickelson, Tiger, and Vijay. In 2002, at Bethpage Black on Long Island, Phil once again came in second place, this time losing by three strokes to Tiger Woods. In 2004, at Shinnecock Hills, Mickelson double bogeyed 17, falling just two strokes short of Retief Goosen. In 2006, Mickelson double bogeyed 18 after failing to hit the fairway which led to Geoff Ogilvy’s one shot victory at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.
Could Mickelson change his fate at Bethpage, the same place he had lost to Tiger in 2002?
The stage was set early on, as fans and players wore pink to show their support for Amy Mickelson and an emotional Phil tee’d off with Ernie Els on Thursday afternoon. After a rain soaked first round, Phil was tied for 7th at one under, just five strokes behind the leader, Mike Weir.
However, the second and third rounds were dominated by the 2002 amateur champion, Ricky Barnes who would shoot a 65 and go into the clubhouse with a one stroke lead over Lucas Glover (-7). Barnes would reach as high as 11 under in round three with a lead as big as six, however, Barnes began to unravel in the final round, bogeying five of the first nine holes, allowing Phil, Tiger, and Duval to creep back into contention. Mickelson led a charge from -2 entering the final round, which was capped off by an eagle on 13 which tied Lucas Glover for the lead. Mickelson, like he has done so many times in the past, began to unravel much like Barnes did in the early part of the soggy Monday at Bethpage. Mickelson would three putt for bogey on 15 and bogey 17, ultimately dropping him back to -2, two strokes behind the leader, Glover, with one hole to play. His fate was sealed for the fifth time in ten years at the U.S. Open. With the crowd behind him and the emotion of his wife Amy’s battle with cancer, it wasn’t enough for Phil as he once again was unable to come through when it mattered. Glover would go on to win with a two stroke lead over Barnes, Mickelson, and Duval. Better luck next year, Phil.