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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > PGA Tour > US Open > Round 4


Phil Mickelson - "I can't belive I just did that"

The bad old days of high-risk gambits and low-percentage golf came back to haunt Phil Mickelson on Sunday, as he let a place among golf's all-time greats slip through his fingers with a devastating final hole collapse at the U.S. Open.

Leading Australia's Geoff Ogilvy by a shot as he stepped onto the 18th tee, Mickelson stood on the brink of history poised to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only men to win three consecutive majors since the legendary Bobby Jones.

Woods pulled off the feat in 2000, matching Hogan's 1953 effort and Jones in 1930.

With the record books beckoning, Mickelson faltered, unleashing a wild drive that bounced off the roof of the hospitality tent into the crowd before ending in a double-bogey and another runner-up finish.

Against a backdrop of thousands of stunned supporters gathered around the 18th green, Mickelson crouched down and buried his head in his hands realising his bid for what had been billed the 'Mickel-slam' was over.

"I'm still in shock that I did that," a horrified Mickelson told reporters. "I just can't believe I did that.

"I am such an idiot.

"I just couldn't hit a fairway all day.

"I just couldn't believe I couldn't par the last hole.

"It really stings."

Winless in his first 42 majors, Mickelson had been branded the best player never to have won a championship until he made his long-awaited breakthrough at the 2004 Masters.

Criticised for his cavalier attitude to the majors and taking too many unnecessary risks, Mickelson's victory at Augusta changed forever the way he approached golf's biggest events.

Suddenly the majors became the focus of his career and he approached each with meticulous preparation.

As part of his build-up to this year's U.S. Open, Mickelson visited Winged Foot 10 times, mapping out every shot and contour.

The U.S. Open, the prize Mickelson claims to covet more than any other, has been particularly cruel to the American left-hander who has now finished runner-up four times at his national championship -- in 1999 at Pinehurst, 2002 at Bethpage Black, 2004 at Shinnecock Hills and 2006 Winged Foot.

With the wounds still fresh, Mickelson insisted none of his previous near misses came close to matching the pain he felt over his most recent fumble.

"This one hurts more than any tournament because I had it won," Mickelson told reporters. "It hurts because I had it in my grasp and just let it go.

"This one is going to take a little while to get over. This one is disappointing.

"The biggest reason why it's so disappointing is that this is a tournament that I dreamt of winning as a kid.

"I spent countless hours practising, dreaming of winning this tournament.

"I came out here weeks and months in advance to get ready and had it right there in my hand.

"It was right there and I let it go. I just can't believe I did that."

"I came out here and worked hard all four days, haven't made a bogey there all week and then bogeyed the last.

"I just can't believe I did that."



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