FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - Phil Mickelson flew across country last night to be with his wife, Amy, and their three children. They'll be starting a family vacation that got pushed back a bit because the 109th U.S. Open kept getting pushed back a bunch. Now, he can go back to being a father and husband again.
As well as a best friend.
And it will stay that way for the foreseeable future as golf takes a back seat to real life.
The second-best golfer of his era finished second in yet another U.S. Open yesterday at Bethpage Black, where he also was runner-up in 2002. It's the fifth time he has had to settle for second-best at this major, breaking the record he'd shared with Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. This was the only major Snead never won. The others combined for nine.
Mickelson thinks he'll get his one of these years. But right now, he has other things to deal with besides some more frustration.
Last month, Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon, she'll begin her treatments. Mickelson will likely miss next month's British Open, and maybe even the PGA in August.
"I feel different this time," he said. "I think maybe it's more in perspective for me. I wanted to win this tournament badly. I feel I'll have more chances."
At that point, he hadn't spoken to Amy yet.
"We'll talk on the way back," he said. "We're going to pick her up and go straight from there.
"It's not that I need a vacation. It's just that we're not going to have a chance in the next couple of months to have a lot of family time. So as a family, we need it."
This was also his fourth consecutive second in a New York Open. Once again, the fans were the 15th club in his bag.
"It was kind of an emotional 4 or 5 days," he acknowledged. "It was a lot of ups and downs for me as far as a lot of birdies, a lot of bogeys, fighting to get back into it, back out, back in it. I put myself in great position to close it out. But unfortunately I didn't finish it off.
"I'm certainly disappointed. But now that it's over, I've got more important things going on and, oh, well."
Sean O'Hair left the course immediately afterward to make the 3-hour drive home to West Chester, where his wife Jackie is expected to deliver the couple's third child (a second boy, Grady) any time now.
"It's amazing she's held it off [this long]," he said. "Our son [Luke] was born 8 days early. The third baby is normally early."
When Molly, their first child, came into this world, O'Hair admits he didn't react well when Jackie was given an epidural. But now he's a veteran.
"I'm not good with needles," he said. "With Luke, I looked away. But what am I complaining about? She's the one who has to go through it.
"That's the most important thing, to be there for her. I look forward to that, and spending time with the kids. That's obviously the first priority."
He closed with a 76 that included two double bogeys and left him in a tie for 23rd at 285. That, coming off a tie for 10th in April at the Masters, his best finish in a major.
"I just played awful from around the greens today," he said. "You just can't chip and putt the way I did on the back nine. It cost me. It's a tough way to finish. I was really looking forward to playing in this tournament. But it happened. And it's probably not the last time it's going to happen. I kind of have to take the best from this week and try to move on. With all the weather delays and everything it never had the feel of a U.S. Open. But there's nothing they could do about it.
"I haven't been playing great the last few weeks. Not terrible. But not the way I know how to play. I want to get back on track. I have to reflect on this week and see where my game is. Basically, most of this year, I've been competing. I've been there, contending. I want to get back to that point. I'm not quite in the game right now."
Maybe he's just been a little preoccupied.
This was David Duval's first top 10 in a major since the 2001 PGA . . . Ian Poulter had the low round of the day, 67 . . . For those into numbers, Lucas Glover tied for 13th in fairways hit (40), was fourth in greens in regulation (52), 11th in total putts (116), tied for fourth in birdies (16) and finished eighth in driving distance (291.1-yard average) . . . Next year's Open is at Pebble Beach, Calif., for the first time since 2000 . . . Next month's British Open is at Turnberry, which last hosted in 1994. *