PINEHURST, N.C. – There was no triumphant return. No career Grand Slam. No Pinehurst redemption. No U.S. Open title.
There wasn’t even that sarcastic second place that Phil Mickelson joked about on Saturday. Just a lost week, another over-par round, another missed opportunity.
Lefty closed with a 2-over 72 for a 7 over total on Sunday at the U.S. Open. For all the hype that greeted Mickelson this week, deep down he knew it was all just hopeful thinking.
“Given the way I was playing coming into this tournament it was really a long shot,” Mickelson conceded.
It was supposed to be an historic opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam at the course where all of his Open heartbreak started in 1999 when he finished runner-up to Payne Stewart.
But given his play this season, it’s not a huge surprise that Mickelson was a non-story once play began on Thursday. Lefty doesn’t have a single top 10 in 2014 on the PGA Tour and missed the cut at the Masters for the first time since 1997.
“You can’t get by with scraping it around and I didn’t have it this week,” said Mickelson, who hit the ball well enough but couldn’t convert with either a standard or claw grip on the greens and finished with 121 putts which ranked him in the bottom half of the field.
For all the disappointment, however, there will be other chances for Mickelson, who turns 44 on Monday and likely won’t play again until he defends his title at the Scottish Open. The following week, he'll also be the defending champion at the Open Championship.
“I’m optimistic about the end of the year, but I’m looking forward to coming years too,” Mickelson said. “I feel like I learned a few things and picked up a few things for the coming years.”