Phil Mickelson reflected on yet more US Open heartbreak after extending his unwanted record of second place finishes in the event to six on his 43rd birthday.
Mickelson took a one-shot lead into the final round at Merion and holed his second shot to the 10th for an eagle to reclaim top spot on the leaderboard during a dramatic finale.
However, the four-time major winner played the last six holes in three over par to card a closing 74 and finish two shots behind England's Justin Rose, whose 70 was the only par score from any player in the last 10 groups.
"For me it's very heart breaking," said Mickelson, who also finished second in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009.
"This could have been a really big turnaround for me on how I look at the US Open and the tournament that I'd like to win, after having so many good opportunities.
"Playing very well here and really loving the golf course, this week was my best opportunity I felt heading in, certainly the final round, the way I was playing and the position I was in.
"This one's probably the toughest for me [to take], because at 43 and coming so close five times, it would have changed the way I look at this tournament altogether and the way I would have looked at my record. Except I just keep feeling heartbreak.
"If I had won today or if I ultimately win, I'll look back at the other Opens and think that it was a positive play. If I never get the Open, then I look back and every time I think of the US Open, I just think of heartbreak."
Mickelson began the week by flying home to California on Monday and attending his daughter's eighth-grade graduation on Wednesday evening before flying back overnight for a 7.11am start on Thursday.
On just three hours' sleep he carded an opening 67 to lead by one and was tied for the lead after a second-round 72, while a 70 on Saturday saw him one ahead of Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel and Steve Stricker going into the final round, and two ahead of Rose.
However, he three-putted the third and fifth for double bogeys to reach the turn in 39 before a moment of magic on the 10th, where he holed out from the rough from 75 yards for an eagle two.
Having left his driver out of the bag in favour of five wedges, Mickelson then hit two poor wedge shots into the 13th and 15th to make crucial bogeys and said: "The wedges on 13 and 15 are the ones I will look back on.
"On 13 I hit way too much club, I hit a pitching wedge and needed a gap wedge. On 15 when I did hit a gap wedge I quit on it."
Mickelson's previous second-place finishes at US Open
1999 one behind Payne Stewart
2002 three behind Tiger Woods
2004 two behind Retief Goosen
2006 one behind Geoff Ogilvy
2009 two behind Lucas Glover