US Open countdown: Phil Mickelson blows chance to win first Open

106th U.S. Open | June 15-18, 2006

Winged Foot Golf Club West Course, Mamaroneck, N.Y.


Geoff Ogilvy, Australia 71 - 70 - 72 - 72 285
Jim Furyk, United States 70 - 72 - 74 - 70 286
Phil Mickelson, United States 70 - 73 - 69 - 74 286
Colin Montgomery, Scotland 69 - 71 - 75 - 71 286
Padraig Harrington, Ireland 73 - 69 - 74 - 71 287

“I am such an idiot!”

No comment more defined the brutal finish of this national open — with its unrelenting heat and no-mercy rough.

But it was Phil Mickelson’s finest chance to haul in his first U.S. Open title, which would have certainly catapulted him onto the list of all-time great golfers.

Instead, “Phil the Thrill” melted down on the finishing hole like an ice cream bar on this 100-degree day, virtually handing the title to Geoff Ogilvy.

The one thing Ogilvy did that none of the other contenders could was get up and down for par on the brutal par-4 18th hole. He signed his scorecard nearly an hour before the last groups came through, then watched them fall, one by one:

But from the fairway at No. 18, he switched clubs from 6-iron to 7-iron, thinking adrenaline would kick in. The ball leaked right into the deep rough. He ended up three-putting on a dangerous downhill putt to save par.

What will be forever debated is his strategy from that point. He opted to go for the green and try and make par, but his golf ball hit a tree and advanced only 25 yards.

Mickelson’s third shot landed in a greenside bunker left of the green. His fourth shot from the sand carried off the green. He failed to hole his uphill chip shot to tie Ogilvy.

That drama all led to Mickelson’s fourth U.S. Open runner-up finish, tying Sam Snead for most all-time. It also led to this famous post-round quote.

“I still am in shock that I did that,” Mickelson said. “I just can’t believe that I did that. I am such an idiot.”

Five different golfers held the lead at one point Sunday — with 15 lead changes among them.