PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- With a triple bogey on the 18th hole on Saturday, Phil Mickelson finished a round of 4-over 75 that eliminated any chance he had to capture his first U.S. Open.
After receiving a standing ovation from the gallery in the packed grandstands, the San Diegan did something most unusual: He praised the U.S. Golf Association.
Mickelson ripped the USGA before the tournament, saying that the only time Open setups were fair is if it rained during tournament week.
There's been no rain this week, and Mickelson went out of his way to praise the conditions and setup.
"I'm really happy that I had this chance, this opportunity this week," Mickelson said. "I've got to hand it to the USGA for doing a great setup. It's the best I've ever seen. And it's identifying the best players."
More pointedly, he added, "It's making the players the story."
Mickelson said the biggest difference was the placement of the flagsticks.
"Instead of putting them right on the edges, they were in good spots, rewarding great shots," he said.
Mickelson wished he could have taken advantage at a site on which he's won a record-tying five AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams. At 4 over for the tournament, he will get an early starting time on the day he celebrates his 49th birthday.
He played the last two holes on Saturday in 4 over. After a bogey at the par-3 17th, Mickelson chose driver off the tee at the par-5 18th and tried to blast it around the bend of the fairway. But the ball found the water, and Mickelson had to re-tee.