Heartbreak Phil Lefty's quest for the Big One has so far produced only near misses and agonizing failure

August 18, 2002

In the 41 majors he has entered, Phil Mickelson has been
runner-up three times, finished eight times in the top five and
16 times in the top 10. Occasionally he has been stymied by his
opponents' stellar play; just as often he's been done in by his
own miscalculation, poor execution and shoddy play on and around
the greens. Here are Mickelson's most memorable major
disappointments.

1995 MASTERS: Went into final round one shot behind Ben Crenshaw
and Brian Henninger, but shot one-over 73 and faded to six back.
Key mistake was at the par-3 6th, where Mickelson hit seven-iron
over the green, then putted from the back fringe down the slope
and off the front, ending up with double bogey. Finish: tie for
seventh.

1995 U.S. OPEN: One behind Greg Norman and Tom Lehman at
Shinnecock Hills after three rounds, Mickelson putted shakily and
shot four-over 74. Birdie at 14 got him to within one shot of the
lead. Then the par-5 16th, his nemesis (he played the hole in six
over par for the week), derailed him: After a poor approach into
deep rough, he tried a flop shot that flopped ... into a bunker.
Double bogey. Finish: tie for fourth

1996 PGA: At Valhalla, Mickelson opened with a pair of 67s to
lead, but shot 74 on Saturday, leaving him three behind Russ
Cochran. On Sunday, Mickelson rallied for a share of the lead
with a kick-in birdie at 7 but made a bad bogey at 10 and spun a
wedge shot off the green and into water at 13. His 72 left him
three back. Finish: tie for eighth.

1999 U.S. Open: This was Mickelson's best chance for a major. He
trailed Payne Stewart by one going into Sunday's round at
Pinehurst and led by one on the 16th tee but bogeyed the long
par-4 while Stewart holed a 25-foot par save, creating a tie. On
the par-3 17th; Stewart hit six-iron to three feet, and Mickelson
hit seven-iron to eight feet--a sweet clutch shot. Mickelson
missed his putt, Stewart made his. At 18, Mickelson missed a
25-footer for birdie, Stewart made his historic 15-footer for par
to win. Finish: second.

2001 MASTERS: One behind Tiger Woods going into the final round,
Mickelson shot two-under 70 and finished three back. A shot
behind at the par-3 16th, Mickelson pulled a seven-iron right,
where it came to rest on steep slope, leaving him a slick 35-foot
putt with 15 feet of break. He rolled it well past the hole, then
missed the par putt coming back. Finish: third.

2001 U.S. Open: Two behind Retief Goosen and Stewart Cink at
start of final round at Southern Hills, Mickelson shot five-over
75, including 39 on the back nine. He made a weak bogey at 9, hit
a poor approach at the par-5 13th, then three-putted from four
feet. His 34 putts on Sunday were the most of any player in the
top 40. Finish: tie for seventh.

2001 PGA: At Atlanta Athletic Club, Mickelson started two strokes
behind David Toms on Sunday and came back three times from
two-shot deficits to tie Toms. After a clutch chip-in for birdie
at 15 pulled Mickelson even for the final time, he hooked his tee
shot at 16 but got a break when it caromed back into fairway.
After overhearing greenside spectators saying that his 45-foot,
uphill putt was slower than it looked; Mickelson ran his putt
eight feet past the hole and three-putted for bogey, a stroke
that he wasn't able to make up on the last two holes. His
two-under 68 gave Mickelson a 266, which was the record low score
for a major until Toms completed his 69 for a 265. Finish:
second.

2002 MASTERS: Four behind Woods going into Sunday, Mickelson
broke quickly with birdies on the first two holes but bogeyed the
next two and never threatened, shooting a one-under 71. Finish:
third.

2002 U.S. Open: Five behind Woods at the start of the final round
at Bethpage, Mickelson shot even-par 70. He had been 10 shots
behind through six holes on Saturday, but made 10 birdies and was
a stellar five under par over the remaining 30 holes. On Sunday,
Mickelson got within two strokes of Woods. He went for the flag
from the primary cut of rough at 16, trying to clear a bunker yet
hold the green, but found the bunker and made bogey. Mickelson
added another bogey at 17. Finish: second. --Gary Van Sickle

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS (LEFT)SO CLOSE At Bethpage, Mickelson rallied after a stormy second round; at Augusta (right) he has battled a balky putter. COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK [See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)