By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 16, 2008
SAN DIEGO, June 15 -- Phil Mickelson may not have been a factor at the U.S. Open on Sunday, but the San Diego native nonetheless managed to enjoy his final round. Three birdies over his final five holes at least left him encouraged as he looked toward the season's next major.
"I just tried to play a good round and use it as a steppingstone into the British [Open] and some of the things I want to work on for the British," said Mickelson, who closed with a 68 and finished the tournament 6-over-par 290.
This year's British Open will be contested at Royal Birkdale, where Mickelson played in 1991 and '98. The 1991 tournament was Mickelson's first foray into the British Open.
"I love the golf course," he said. "I think it's spectacular, and I'm looking forward to playing."
Mickelson has been runner-up four times at the U.S. Open, tying Sam Snead for the record. He last finished second in 2006 at Winged Foot, where he failed to hold a two-shot lead with four holes to play.
"This has been a great Open championship," he said. "Obviously I would have liked to have played better, but the way the course has been presented, the way it was set up, it was the fairest, best test in golf."High Marks for Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines rated well among the players as the scenic course hosted the U.S. Open for the first time. Consensus was the course was fair and better set up for scoring than its two predecessors, Winged Foot in 2006 and Oakmont last year.
Angel Cabrera (Oakmont) and Geoff Ogilvy (Winged Foot) won those Opens with scores of 5 over. Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate tied after 72 holes at 1 under at this year's tournament and will meet in an 18-hole playoff Monday.
"Yeah, I think it was very fair," reigning British Open champion Padraig Harrington said. "I think the course is exceptionally generous, the setup today. . . . Yeah, I think it's a really good golf course."
Said Mickelson: "I got to think that the USGA loves the way this tournament has played out, and I think Torrey Pines, in my opinion, has played the best that any Open setup has played."
Next year's U.S. Open will be at Bethpage Black, in Farmingdale, N.Y., where Woods won in 2002.Slocum Goes Low
The low round of the tournament belonged to Heath Slocum, who shot a 65 Sunday. That was the best round in a U.S. Open since Vijay Singh shot 63 in the second round in 2003 at Olympia Fields.
"That was obviously one of the better rounds I've ever played," Slocum said. "I hit the ball pretty good at times, but I kept it out of bad trouble. And I made a lot of putts today. Obviously that's what you're going to have to do out here. I made some big par saves, some long putts that I wasn't supposed to make for birdies."
Slocum completed the tournament 4-over 288.
"I got off to a great start," he said. "I'd gotten off to a horrendous start when I played that front nine all week. Horrible. I got off to a good start, and I just kept it going all day, and I felt good out there."