His lead was two with three holes to play — a combined 1,377 yards of iconic Winged Foot’s closing stretch. That’s all that separated 36-year-old Phil Mickelson from an elusive U.S. Open victory. It was June 18, 2006, and Lefty was closing in on his third consecutive major title. But in reality he’d been leaking oil all day.
Things didn’t improve on his next hole, the 16th. After carding his fifth bogey of the day there, Mickelson had found just two fairways in the entire final round. Then he deposited his next drive into a trash bin in the rough along the left side of the 17th fairway, prompting longtime NBC Sports play-by-play man Dan Hicks to quip, “He’s gotten it up and down from every other place this week at Winged Foot. Might as well get it from a trash can.”