We spent some quality time at Merion for the U.S. Open over the last week and it was a pretty great experience. We’d been looking forward to the tournament coming to town for a while now and it did not let us down. Not only were we excited for the golf, but for the entire experience: the history, the economic impact, the city getting into it, and all the attention it was bringing to Philadelphia.
So the tournament was great, and Merion and Philadelphia both shined… despite less than 100% cooperation from Mother Nature. But we’d be lying if we said that, in the end, we weren’t a little disappointed when Phil didn’t win his first U.S. Open Championship on Sunday here at Merion. He was in the lead after the first, second and third rounds, but after a round on Sunday during which he couldn’t get any of his putts to drop, he finished second to England’s Justin Rose. This is the sixth time Mickelson has finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, which is a record.
It just felt like this was Phil’s week. (Like when he did this on the 9th hole on Thursday. And this on the 18th hole on Thursday. And this on the 17th hole on Saturday. And this on the 10th hole on Sunday.)
And Phil felt it too. In a post-round interview, he talked about his love for Merion and Philadelphia, and how much coming so close this time only to come up short hurt.
Question: Playing here in the Philly area and hearing the happy birthdays all around, did you get a special feeling they were behind you?
Phil, Answer: Yeah, the people here have been fabulous. And to look at the members and what they’ve done and the homeowners, what they’ve sacrificed to allow this tournament to come back is pretty cool. The way the community has wanted this and supports this tournament, more so than just about any place we’ve ever been.
We’ve played U.S. Opens at great golf courses where the membership voted not to have us back. Here they want us back, they’re opening their homes to the USGA for the infrastructure. Coming out when they can’t really see too much, coming out to be a part of the tournament. It’s great the way the city of Philadelphia has supported this tournament. I hope we have a chance to come back.
Us too, Phil. Us too. (And hopefully the USGA doesn’t wait 32 years next time to bring it back.)
Check out a few more quotes from Phil about his love for the course below, plus a video of his amazing eagle on 10 on Sunday.
Question: Finishing second again in the U.S. Open, go over that feeling?
Phil, Answer: For me it’s very heart breaking. This could have been the big ‑‑ a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the U.S. Open and the tournament that I’d like to win, after having so many good opportunities.
Also playing very well here and really loving the golf course, this week was my best opportunity, I felt, heading in, certainly the final round, the way I was playing and the position I was in.
Question: Is this tougher than the others to take, this second?
Phil, Answer: Very possibly, yeah. I would say it very well could be. I think this was my best chance. I think that the way that I was playing heading in, the position I was in and the way I love the golf course. It gave me chances to make birdies. I didn’t really make any, but there were opportunity after opportunity, after you get by the 6th hole. And even the 6th hole, I had a great look at it.
But this one’s probably the toughest for me, because at 43 and coming so close five times, it would have changed way I look at this tournament altogether and the way I would have looked at my record. Except I just keep feeling heartbreak.
Gah. It’s like a punch to the gut.
Phil, we feel you. And as always, we’ll be rooting for you next year.
And who knows, hopefully Phil will still be letting it rip when the U.S. Open returns to Merion… Maybe in 2021???
2013 U.S. Open: Despite loss, Phil Mickelson wants Open back at Merion [Philly.com]
2021, anyone? Merion could host future Open [Golf Channel]