Mickelson's wife, Amy, as well as their children were in attendance, hoping for the greenside celebration like the one at Muirfield last summer. Instead they had to settle for consoling Phil behind the clubhouse, a sense of accomplishment despite the loss.
"Phil looked more himself today, but this was a great day for golf,'' Amy Mickelson said. "Just so much excitement out there. It's hard to root against any of those guys. Rory, Rickie, Henrik [Stenson]. Phil was really excited for this day. It was great for him. And it was so good that he could be aggressive.''
Mickelson will ultimately rue his inability to make birdies after the 11th until No. 18. And there was the crushing bogey at the 16th, where his pitch shot from the short-side rough hit the flag stick and didn't drop, stopping 10 feet away. He missed the putt to fall out of the lead he would never grab again.
"I botched it,'' Mickelson said. "I flew it way too far. I was just trying to fly it halfway from the front edge to the pin and let it release, and it just come out fast. I thought it was going to come out a little slower. Came out fast. It had a chance. I needed a lucky break there. If it one-hops ... like it might almost did ... it caught the lip. It would have been a two-shot swing.''
You wonder how often Mickelson laments these close calls in majors. Merion last year. Winged Foot in 2006. Pinehurst in 1999. Those are three that were basically decided by one shot here or there. Could five majors become eight? Or 10? Mickelson seemed intent on fixing the problems in his game, and focusing on the future.
The next time we see him at the Barclays, you can almost predict he'll be smiling and talking about all the good things to take out of this tournament. But on Sunday night, it was clearly difficult to see through the discontent.