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MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson was poised to take his place with Tiger Woods in the record books. Instead, he joined Jean Van de Velde in the sad chapter of major championship collapses. All in a New York minute.
The transformation was shocking and sudden late yesterday afternoon in the U.S. Open, when the new Phil, who was going for his third straight major, turned into the old Phil, with a stubborn, reckless attempt to get himself out of another jam.
He went for a par that would have won at Winged Foot. He wound up with a double bogey that made Geoff Ogilvy the first Australian to win this title in 25 years.
“I still am in shock that I did that. I just can’t believe that I did that,” Mickelson said. “I am such an idiot.”
The winning stroke in the toughest U.S. Open in 32 years was a 6-foot par putt that Ogilvy made on the 18th hole, which appeared to be good enough for second place. The lasting image was Mickelson making a mess of the 72nd hole in a major meltdown.
The celebration didn’t take place on the 18th green, but in the clubhouse, after Ogilvy signed for a 2-over 72 and then watched an incredible sequence unfold, just as stunned as everyone else.
“I think I was the beneficiary of a little bit of charity,” Ogilvy said.
The 29-year-old Aussie didn’t stand around waiting for handouts, though. Resilient as ever, he battled to the very end.
Ogilvy chipped in from mangled rough on the 17th hole to save par, then overcame a miserable break on the 18th when his tee shot came to rest in a divot.The approach lost power as it reached the green, tumbling down the false front, and he did well to pitch up the hill to about 6 feet behind the cup.
He made the putt, unlike Colin Montgomerie and Jim Furyk before him. But this was Mickelson’s major to win, and the first one he threw away.
“This one is going to take a while to get over,” Mickelson said.
Ogilvy finished at 5-over 285, the first time a U.S. Open champion finished over par since Andy North in 1978. And it was the highest score by a winner since Hale Irwin shot 287 at Winged Foot in the 1974 U.S. Open. There were only 12 rounds under par all week.
Montgomerie had his best chance in 11 years to win that elusive major. He holed a 75-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole for a share of the lead and was in the middle of the 18th fairway, in prime position to do no worse than a playoff. But he missed well to the right, down a steep slope into rough. The best he could do was chip some 40 feet by the pin.Then he did the worst thing he could do, running his par putt 10 feet by and missing the next one for a double bogey and a 71.