He's spent the better part of his career analyzing — and over analyzing — what should be a simple game. He might have won eight major championships by now instead of four had he not been so sure that he had a better way to do things on the golf course than any of the greats and not-so-greats who came before him.
He's stubborn in his ways, certain of his beliefs. He's also immensely gifted, and he's been right often enough to make himself the second best player of his time as well as a fan favorite who smiles even when things go bad.
Mickelson wasn't smiling on the clubhouse lawn while Watson and Louis Oosthuizen traded birdie misses on the 18th green a few hundred yards away, then headed down the 10th hole where Watson was crowned the new champion. This one hurt because he knew how close he was, and knew that at the age of 41 he might not have too many chances left.
Still, he wasn't about to admit he was wrong.
"I can't feel like I lost it," he said. "But it just didn't happen for me."
Maybe next year he'll aim for the green.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or twitter.com/timdahlberg
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.