Heartbroken Phil Mickelson is a US Open bridesmaid again

In the context of a highly impressive career it seems curious to suggest Phil Mickelson could retire without enjoying the one success he would cherish the most.

Nonetheless the American's latest second place at a US Open – his sixth – endorsed the theory that he must win this major to scratch an ongoing professional itch.

Mickelson has four majors to his name and has enjoyed more heady days than the vast majority of players but the US Open remains the one he wants. In Pennsylvania he did nothing to hide that.

"For me it's heartbreaking," Mickelson conceded. "This could have been a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the US Open, the tournament that I'd like to win, after having so many good opportunities.

"Also, playing very well and really loving the golf course, this week was my best opportunity, I felt, heading in. Certainly the final round, the way I was playing and the position I was in."

Mickelson does not take second best lightly, that much is clear, just as it also was when he offered emotional sentiment in the aftermath of Europe's victory over the USA in the Ryder Cup, last year at Medinah.

The world No6 had been at the head of affairs in the 113th staging of the US Open from the opening stages. His final-round 74 left him tied for second with Jason Day, two shots adrift of the victorious Justin Rose.

"I think this was my best chance," Mickelson added. "I think that the way that I was playing heading in, the position I was in and the way I love the golf course, it gave me chances to make birdies. I didn't really make any but there was opportunity after opportunity after you get by the 6th hole. And even the 6th hole, I had a great look at it.

"But this one's probably the toughest for me, because at 43 and coming so close five times, it would have changed the way I look at this tournament altogether and the way I would have looked at my record. Except I just keep feeling heartbreak."

How the home crowd would have lapped up a Mickelson win. Unquestionably linked to the spectacular demise of Tiger Woods' public persona, Mickelson has claimed the hearts and minds of the United States public. Although Woods retains support, Mickelson is widely viewed as a more complete, and edifying, human being.

As Mickelson drove at the 18th hole of his third round, spectators in the stand behind him rose to holler and applaud as if a home run had been hit. That was not an isolated incident; the vast majority of the crowd wanted to push Mickelson on to victory.

"The people here have been fabulous," Mickelson said. "And to look at the members and what they've done and the homeowners, what they've sacrificed to allow this tournament to come back, is pretty cool.

"The way the community has wanted this and supports this tournament, more so than just about any place we have ever been.

"We have played US Opens at great golf courses where the membership voted not to have us back. Here they want us back. They're opening their homes to the USGA for the infrastructure. Coming out when they can't really see too much, coming out to be a part of the tournament. It's great the way the city of Philadelphia has supported this tournament. I hope we have a chance to come back."

More than that, Mickelson just wants to break his US Open habit.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ewan Murray at Merion, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 17th June 2013 23.15 Europe/London

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image: © Jim Epler