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Lefty remains people's choice

June 23, 2009|Teddy Greenstein

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — To the end, Phil Mickelson remained the people's choice at "The People's Open."

About 30 minutes after finishing second in the U.S. Open for the fifth time -- establishing a record -- Mickelson signed autographs for fans near the clubhouse.

"Right on top, Phil," said one man, indicating where he wanted his flag signed. "Right where you belong."

Before play began, Mickelson said his goal was to bring home the silver trophy to wife Amy, who will undergo breast cancer surgery July 1.

He fell two strokes shy of forcing a playoff with Lucas Glover.

"Certainly I'm disappointed," he said. "But now that it's over, I've got more important things going on. Oh, well."

Mickelson called his play "up and down" after making an eagle, 17 birdies, 13 bogeys and two doubles. That description, unlike two of his putts down the stretch, was dead on.

He birdied No. 12 and eagled the 13th by crushing a three-iron from 229 yards to four feet. That moved him into a tie for the lead at four under.

But two holes later, he gave it back with a three-putt on No. 15. Then he went soft on a three-footer for par on 17.

"I needed to give it more speed because it was slightly uphill," he said. "I didn't hit it firm enough at all."

Mickelson jogged uphill from the 17th green to the 18th tee box, fist-bumping and high-fiving the gallery, per his custom. If only he could have taken it one step further by reciprocating those "Let's go, Phil!" chants.

"The people here are incredible," he said. "I keep thinking that this is the ideal spot to hold a Ryder Cup.

"The golf course is terrific, and [Nos.] 16, 17 and 18 are so close together. And the way the fans are, we'd have a big advantage."

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Promise kept

Glover said he would honor a commitment by returning to Cromwell, Conn., to play in the Travelers Championship this week. Last year he shot an opening-round 65 there, tying his best for the year.

"It's a cool course," Glover said of TPC River Highlands. "It's fun. I like it."

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Tap-ins

Check out qualifier Trevor Murphy's back-nine card: 5-5-5-6-2-7-6-3-4 -- 43. Think duffers can relate? But, hey, his tie for 58th netted him $20,630. . . . Mickelson's five seconds are one more than Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones. But Nicklaus (four times), Palmer (one) and Jones (four) also won the Open. . . . The USGA announced these attendance numbers: 34,814 (Thursday), 51,528 (Friday), 48,185 (Saturday), 43,235 (Sunday), 23,985 (Monday).

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tgreenstein@tribune.com

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