PEBBLE BEACH -- The fans at Pebble Beach celebrated fan favorite Phil Mickelson's 49th birthday all Sunday long at the 2019 U.S. Open, serenading him with "Happy Birthday To You" on nearly every hole. The loudest coming after he sank a birdie putt on the 18th hole to finish the championship at 1-over par.
It wasn't the birthday present Mickelson envisioned when the week began, but it's all his game allowed him to receive.
"Well, I don't know what else to say," Mickelson said after his round. "It's not like I'm going to stop trying. I enjoy the challenge. But I thought this was a really good chance for me.
"I just didn't -- I didn't putt my best, I didn't chip my best. I actually played okay tee to green. I hit a lot of good shots. And my short game was not what it usually is and hasn't been this year. So I'm going to work on that a little bit. I feel like my game has been coming around and I want to finish off this summer."
After winning the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble in February, many thought Phil would be a factor at the U.S. Open, a tournament he's had a record six runner-up finishes in. But Mickelson never was a factor a the iconic course. The next time the U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach will be in 2027 when Mickelson will be 57. This, more likely than not, was his last shot to win the big one at a course that means so much to him.
"Dealing with losing in this game is a huge thing because even the best -- the greatest winners win such a small percentage of the time," Mickelson said.
"But I have had so many special moments here at Pebble Beach that I can't help but play here and not be thankful and appreciative and grateful for all the gifts that I've been given and to be able to play and compete in this event. This was my first event as a pro, 1992, here. Even though I didn't play my best this week it is a special place and so fun to be a part of it."
At 49, Mickelson appears to be running out of years to compete at a high level in major championships.
His last second-place finish at the U.S. Open came in 2013 at Merion. A month later he won The British Open championship, his last major win to date.
Since then, the five-time major champion has struggled in majors, with only three top 10s in 23 starts.
Next year, the U.S. Open heads back to Winged Foot, the site of Mickelson's most famous near-miss when he double-bogeyed the final hole to lose to Geoff Ogilvy by one shot in 2006.
Mickelson will be there, having just turned 50, hoping he still has some magic left for the big stage.