A month ago on major championship Sunday, Phil Mickelson had us all on the edge of our seats as he embarked on an historic US PGA Championship crusade which eventually ended in a victory for the ages at 50-years-old. 

Last night, the now 51-year-old departed Torrey Pines before we’d really settled into those seats as his US Open campaign ended quietly before the cut-and-thrust got going.

We were all asking a lot weren’t we? The starry-eyed notion that the bold, galvanised Mickelson could follow up his US PGA win by finally capturing the career grand slam in his home city at the US Open, an event he has six runners-up finishes in, was a wonderfully romantic ideal that would’ve had Don Quixote rolling his eyes in disbelief.

There wouldn’t be another fairytale for Phil, of course. Those golfing gods don’t like to dish them out willy-nilly.  A closing four-over 75 for an 11-over aggregate left the veteran lefty well down the order.

Mickelson began the week revelling in the exciting prospect of a “unique opportunity” to complete that career grand slam. He ended it, almost two hours before the final group was due to tee off, by clattering his approach to the 18th around 70 yards beyond the hole and making a closing bogey six.


That final round 75 was the same score as his opening round on Thursday. Rather like the Scotland fitba’ team at EURO 2020, the stuttering start was followed by a spirited showing as Mickelson rallied with a 69 on Friday to rekindle his hopes. As Tartan Army footsoldiers will tell you, though, it’s the hope that kills you. A third round 76 on Saturday ended any lingering ambitions.

"I was kind of fighting it a little bit and struggled on Thursday,” reflected Mickelson after his final round last night. “But I really found something on Friday and thought ‘ok, I'm just going to start playing like I did at Kiawah into the weekend', but Saturday I lost it. So it happens. I just lost the timing, the rhythm got quick, and I started hitting it sideways, which you can't do out here.''

This was Mickelson’s 30th US Open appearance going back to a debut as an amateur back in 1990 and it is a championship that has teased and tormented him like no other. Many thought he was done and dusted on the main tour until he rolled back the years at Kiawah Island and, in this game of great longevity, there’s still life in the old dog. 

“There are some opportunities coming up with the way I've been playing that I'm optimistic that I can compete and contend,'' he added with a cheery outlook. “Afterwards, I'll look back and reminisce when the season's over.

"I’ve put in a lot of work the last couple years and got nothing out of it, so to have a moment like that (the US PGA) is something that makes it worthwhile. I'll still have that Wanamaker trophy and I'll still be looking to add a friend to it along the line.”

As Mickelson departed, the movers and shakers at the sharp end were jockeying for position on a mighty, tightly-packed leaderboard featuring defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Russell Henley, Paul Casey, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm. In the early exchanges, it was a case of take your pick.

On the home front, meanwhile, Oban’s Robert MacIntyre started with a double-bogey on the first hole and closed with a 73 for a five-over aggregate in another solid showing on golf's biggest stage.