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Out of that failure, a deeper friendship with Mickelson blossomed. It was Mickelson who patted Mahan on the shoulder and tried to boost his spirits even as tears welled in the Texan’s eyes after Wales.

Yes, Mahan wanted that Open trophy, but he ached a bit, too, for Mickelson.

“He’s a great leader, and being in golf you don’t hear that word very often _ leader,” Mahan said. “But he’s really a leader in the game and he takes his time out to talk to the young guys. He did it with myself at the Presidents Cup. He really relishes that role and enjoys it.

“He’s a great guy to admire.”

Mahan’s has had major struggles this season, missing two cuts, and finishing no better than 16th in four tournaments prior to the Open.

He was among a group of contenders _ Steve Stricker, Luke Donald, Billy Horschel and Rose _ that had never won a major.

That, of course, changed for Rose on Sunday.

Buoyed by Merion, Mahan feels better about ending that streak soon.

“I stepped on the tee today knowing I was going to win,” he said, “And left the 18th green knowing I could win. It’s all good.”