Year after US Open runner-up not kind to Mickelson

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PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) - Phil Mickelson not only believes he’s going to win the U.S. Open, he believes he’s going to win more than one.

He just wouldn’t say whether it would be this year.

Pinehurst No. 2 holds an emotional connection for Mickelson for a couple of reasons. It was the first of his record six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open, and his first child was born the day after Payne Stewart made a 15-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to beat him by one shot. What gets overlooked is that Mickelson tied for 33rd and was 12 shots behind when the U.S. Open returned to Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005.

And here’s something else to consider: Mickelson never fares too well the year after his runner-up finish. He will try to change that trend at Pinehurst No. 2 this week.

What follows is a look at Lefty’s encores at the U.S. Open after his five previous silver medals:



Mickelson was runner-up at Pinehurst in 1999 in what became a lost year on the golf course. That was the first full year he failed to win a PGA Tour event. The following year, he already had won three times before the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

He had won the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am two years earlier. Surely, he would be considered a major contender.

But this was the Tiger Woods show.

Woods, who had won the AT&T; earlier that year with a five-shot comeback, went wire-to-wire in what many consider the greatest U.S. Open performance ever. He set a major championship record with a 15-shot victory.

As for Mickelson? He never had to birdie three of his last six holes just to shoot par in the opening round. He never broke par all week and tied for 16th, 19 shots behind.



Mickelson finished three shots behind Woods at Bethpage Black in the 2002 U.S. Open. By then, he was clearly the best player to have never won a major.

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