Philadelphia, PA – It seemed like it was finally meant to be, but it wasn't.
After holing out a beautifully played wedge shot from 75 yards out at the 10th hole on Sunday for an eagle and the outright lead of the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson seemed in line to finally break through for the victory he had come oh so close to many times.
Mickelson entered the 2013 U.S. Open already holding the record for second- place finishes at the championship with five, and he had no intentions of extending that mark.
Plus, fate was apparently on his side as Sunday was his 43rd birthday.
But then we all know what happened from there, Mickelson struggled down the stretch of the testing back nine of Merion's East Course, posting bogeys at the 13th and 15th holes to fall behind Justin Rose.
After missing a lengthy birdie putt at the long par-3 17th that would have brought Mickelson into a tie with Rose atop the leaderboard, Mickelson failed to repeat his heroics at the 18th when he could not chip in for a playoff- forcing birdie at the last, handing the win to Rose.
Mickelson would eventually 2-putt for bogey to claim his sixth second-place finish at the U.S. Open.
It was just the second time in five opportunities he failed to turn a 54-hole lead at a major into a victory.
His other failed conversion was at the 2006 U.S. Open, when he only needed a par at the final hole for the win or a bogey to force a playoff, but made a mess of the 18th en route to a double bogey.
"For me, it's very heartbreaking. 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," Mickelson said after his disappointing finish. "I think this was my best chance."
Now Mickelson will have a whole year to think about yet another disappointing finish at his most elusive event.
He is definitely not out of chances to win the tournament, but history is not on his side as only one person over 43 to win the U.S. Open was Hale Irwin, who captured the 1990 title at 45 years old.
However, none of the upcoming courses may be as well suited to Mickelson's game as Merion was.
With it's tight dimensions and short holes, Merion played right into his strengths.
Not the longest or straightest driver on tour, Mickelson's ability to scramble out of the rough, where he is tied for sixth in proximity to the hole, and his putting, where he is 11th in 1-putts and eighth in strokes gained, are where he makes his move up the leaderboard.
But it was all of those things that let Mickelson down over his final seven holes at Merion and eventually led to his sixth runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.