June 19, 2006

Shaken Mickelson turns thoughts to Hoylake

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

MAMARONECK, New York (Reuters) - Still shell-shocked after
his late U.S. Open meltdown, Phil Mickelson hopes to find some
solace by preparing for next month's British Open at Hoylake in
north-west England.

However, the world number two accepts it will not be easy
for him to come to terms with his fourth runner-up finish in
the second major championship of the year.

"This one hurts more than any tournament because I had it
won," Mickelson told reporters after his bid for a third
consecutive major title was left in tatters by a spectacular
double-bogey on the final hole.

"It hurts because I had it in my grasp and just let it go,
as opposed to somebody making a long putt or what have you.

"I'll head over to the British (Open from July 20-23) and
try to get ready for that tournament.

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

Mickelson, who won last year's PGA Championship at
Baltusrol before clinching his second Masters crown in April,
had been aiming to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only
men to win three successive professional majors.

Hogan was the first to do so in 1953 and Woods followed
suit in 2000 before making it four in a row at the 2001

FIRM Favorite

A firm favorite for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson
led the tournament by two strokes with three holes to play in
Sunday's final round before self-destructing.

He bogeyed the par-four 16th after being too aggressive
with his approach from the rough and dropped two shots at the
last, hitting a wild drive off the roof of a hospitality tent,
striking a tree with his second and plugging his third in a
greenside bunker.

After his fourth shot ran through the green into more
rough, he chipped eight feet past the hole and did well to sink
the return putt for an ugly six before crouching down and
burying his head in his hands.

The 36-year-old American, who found only two fairways out
of 14 in the final round, had to settle for a three-way tie for
second place, one stroke behind triumphant Australian Geoff

It was Mickelson's fourth close call at the U.S. Open,
following runner-up spots at Pinehurst in 1999, at Bethpage
Black in 2002 and at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.

Earlier in the week, he said he often stayed in bed for
three or four days after a major championship to try to recover
from the mental and physical strain.

Asked if he had something similar in mind after Sunday's
bitter disappointment, he replied: "Oh, yeah."