TROON, Scotland -- Phil Mickelson
blamed a shortage of birdies for his failure to follow victory
in the Masters and second place in the U.S. Open with a win
in the 133rd British Open Championship on Sunday.
Mickelson holed a bunker shot for eagle on the long
fourth that took him into a share of the lead and rolled in
putts of 10 and 15 feet to save pars on the ninth and 10th, respectively. Though he held the lead at that point, Mickelson played the final eight holes in even par, finishing one stroke out of a playoff with eventual winner Todd Hamilton and Ernie Els.
Down the stretch, Mickelson made a bogey on the 13th, his first
dropped shot in 50 holes. He birdied the par-5 16th, but never made a charge after that.
"I thought if I could get to the top of the leaderboard or
tied, with nine holes to go, I could make nine pars then,"
said Mickelson, the fourth-ranked player in the world.
"It was a very difficult cross-wind to get the ball close to
the holes," said Mickelson, whose third-place finish was his first career top-10 at the British Open. "I was just playing for pars and thought shooting even
par was going to be good enough.
"(Hamilton and Els) were making birdies
and I wasn't. To miss out by a shot is certainly disappointing."
Mickelson said, though, he had enjoyed his share of luck.
"I got fortunate on nine and 10 to make pars, I certainly
had my breaks," he said. "I had a great break yesterday when I
hit a guy on the leg when I thought I was out of bounds.
"I've had my good fortune. It wasn't that that hurt me, it
was just not enough birdies."