After his memorable 76-yard chip in for an eagle two on the par 4 10th hole, Phil Mickelson thought he was "in a good position" to win his first U.S. Open.
But once again — for the sixth time, exactly — "Lefty" fell a bit short.
The four-time major winner recounted most of his memorable final round Sunday to reporters as if he saw victory but for several putts that just didn't find the bottom of the cup.
"The stroke felt fabulous all day, starting at the first hole. I can't believe that ball didn't go in," he said, rattling off putt-by-putt those that failed to find a home. "Second hole, I hit a good putt. It was really rough around that hole there. I hit a good putt for eagle on 4. Hit a good putt on 6. I thought I made that. I thought I made the one on 8. Thought I made the one on 9, man. The one on 11 wasn't great, but I thought I had a chance on 12. Certainly 16, I thought I made. There were a number that could have gone in. And I think only one did, the one on 14 for par."
The agony of defeat, except with Mickelson, always a slight grin followed by an ever-so-slight head shake to what should have been.
"All day it seemed as though, until that hole out on [Number] 10, it seemed like I would hit putt after putt that wouldn't go in," he said. "They looked good at three feet or four feet out and I couldn't quite get it to go in."
As a famously big hitter even into his early 40s, Mickelson left his driver at home the entire week. Asked if he regretted that decision, he defended his choice to use his 3-wood off the tee.
"I mean I hit the 3‑wood pretty good all week, and I was able to keep it in play," he said. "I don't know where I would have hit it, other than maybe the par‑3, third, today. But even then I probably still would have stuck with a hard 3‑wood."
Mickelson hinted that his two early double bogeys — at the 266-yard par 3 third hole and treacherous 495-yard par 4 fifth hole — may have doomed him in the end.
"I just would have been very happy with bogeys on three and five," he said. "Those are tough holes. And those were costly doubles."