(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson fell short in his quest for a record sixth Pebble Beach Pro-Am victory on Sunday but said his results over the last few weeks had given him momentum for the rest of the year.
Mickelson got within two strokes of eventual winner Nick Taylor with five holes left on the famous California course but faded down the stretch to finish five back.
“It was a hard day but I got outplayed,” the five-times major champion told reporters after shooting a two-over-par 74.
“I’m totally fine with that in that I’m going to continue to get better and give myself more chances and I’m really excited about the rest of the year.
“These last couple of weeks have really given me a lot of motivation and momentum to continue doing what I’m doing.”
The 49-year-old has plenty to motivate him this year, not least the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, the same venue where he double-bogeyed the last in 2006 when needing only par to win.
He is not currently exempt to return this year to a championship he has never won despite six runner-up finishes.
Mickelson has said he would not accept a special exemption into the tournament in June but Sunday’s third-place finish will help his chances of earning a place on merit.
The result will lift him to about 55th in the world rankings, with the top 60 as of May 20 exempt.
Also on the horizon this year is the Ryder Cup, an event the American has not missed since making his debut in 1995.
September’s installment at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin could be his final chance to play in the biennial competition against Europe on home soil.
Sunday marked Mickelson’s first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since winning at Pebble Beach last year. He also came third at the European Tour’s Saudi International a week ago.
While not at his best on Sunday, Mickelson said it was not because of a lack of self belief.
“My focus was really sharp today,” he said.
“I just didn’t execute and we had a few misjudgments of the wind.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)