On Sunday, Phil Mickelson finished second for the ninth time at a major championship. It won’t be the most crushing defeat of his career, but Phil knows he let a great opportunity slip from his amazingly talented hands.
Lefty’s incredible run at Valhalla began with a four-under 31 on the front nine, and continued with a birdie on the par-3 11th and a 35-foot par save on the par-4 12th to remain in a tie for the lead at 15-under.
Mickelson said, “It was a fun day for me to get in the mix and fun day for me to make some birdies and move up early so that I had a good chance on the back nine.”
He added, “I’m disappointed in the outcome. I thought that had I been able to finish those last, five, six holes strong, could have totally flipped the way I look at this year.”
Mickelson parred holes 12 through 15, and nearly holed a birdie chip on 16 that would have been a game changer. Instead, Phil missed the nine-footer coming back for par, and moved to 14-under, one back of McIlroy.
Rory moved two strokes ahead of Phil after a birdie on 17, but the reachable par-5 18th provided the stage for a dramatic finish. Phil’s 30-yard eagle chip sent shock waves through the crowd as it tracked towards the hole. However, the chip did not go down, and Phil tapped in for a 66, and solo second at 15-under par.
Mickelson still has a chance to do some damage in the Playoffs this season, but he is serious about getting his game back in shape for 2015. The second place finish at Valhalla was his only top-10 in the U.S. this year.
“But now I’ve got some regrouping to do these next three for four months. I have some glaring areas in my game that I have to work on, and I feel like if I’m able to continue to be strong and healthy and sharp in these areas of my game, I should have four or five good years that I really want to focus in on.”
He added, “Driving, short irons were terrible this year as a whole. It’s usually a strength and I’ve got to get that back. Perfect example is the wedge shot on 4. That’s right up my alley. I’m trying to hole that half the time and I’m hitting it 18 feet. It was a pathetic shot that when I could have put some pressure on with a birdie, should have knocked it inside four or five feet, no problem, and I hit a terrible shot.”
Hopefully, Phil figures it out, and earns his sixth major championship next year.
PGA Championship leader board.