PINEHURST, N.C. -- Even in the best of times, Phil Mickelson has ample reason to expect the worst at the U.S. Open. More than two decades of play in the major known as the toughest test in golf has produced everything from agony to aggravation, mostly torment, never triumph. And all Mickelson has to show from the U.S. Open are silver medals -- a record six of them -- for finishing second. "He could have won six, and he hasnt won one," Ernie Els said. "I believe hes going to win one. Hes still young enough. His game is still good enough." The U.S. Open took on even greater importance to the 43-year-old Mickelson last summer when he won the British Open at Muirfield, leaving him one major away -- the U.S. Open, of course -- from joining five other greats who have the career Grand Slam. For all his heartache in golfs toughest test, his optimism hasnt wavered. Never mind that he has been linked to an insider trading investigation involving activist investor Carl Icahn and Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters, in which FBI agents paid him a visit after his first round at the Memorial. Or that Mickelson hasnt won this year, his worst start to a season since 2003. Mickelson not only believes hes going to win the U.S. Open, he thinks hes going to win more than one. "Some people view it as though, Hes come close and hes never done it. I see it as though Ive finished second six times in this event," Mickelson said. "I played some of my best golf in this event, and I should have an opportunity -- and more than one opportunity -- to close one out here in the future." The U.S. Open returning to Pinehurst No. 2 only adds to the intrigue. Thats where Mickelson picked up his first silver medal in 1999. He had a one-shot lead with three holes to play and had a 6-foot par putt on the 16th hole, while Payne Stewart was 25 feet away from par. Stewart made his putt, Mickelson missed and they were tied. Stewart took the lead with a short birdie on the 17th, then famously won the U.S. Open with a 15-foot par putt on the final hole. No worries. Mickelson surely would get another chance, and he did. He just doesnt have the trophy. Five years later, he was tied for the lead on the 17th hole at Shinnecock Hills when he hit into a bunker, blasted out to 5 feet and three-putted for double bogey. "It was like being in a morgue walking up the 18th," said Fred Funk, who was paired with him that day. The most crushing blow was at Winged Foot in 2006. Mickelson had a one-shot lead on the 18th hole. His tee shot clanged off a corporate tent. The bigger mistake was going for the green with a 3-iron and hitting a tree. His third shot plugged in the bunker. His fourth shot raced across the green. He made double bogey and lost my one. There was Mickelson, crouched on the green, hands cupped over his head. "I am such an idiot," he said. "Phil handled the whole thing like a true gentleman," said Kenneth Ferrie, who played with him in the final pairing. "He had nice words to say to me coming off 18 and was amazingly courteous and polite to the volunteers and officials considering what had just happened." And yet he keeps coming back for more. Sam Snead, who holds the PGA Tour record with 82 career wins, never won a U.S. Open. Lee Trevino never won the Masters. Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson never won the PGA Championship. Even so, none of those greats ever had as many chances to win the missing major as Mickelson. Hunter Mahan paid him the ultimate respect at Bethpage Black in 2009. Mickelson was tied for the lead with four holes to play until missing short par putts on the 15th and 17th holes. Another U.S. Open bid over, Mickelson was walking up to the 18th green when Mahan -- who had just as good of a chance to win that day -- began applauding, and thousands joined him. Mahan has played with Mickelson twice on Sunday when Lefty was the runner-up. The other occasion was last year at Merion. Mickelson twice made bogey with a wedge in his hand on the back nine. His last hope was to chip in from 40 yards to force a playoff with Justin Rose. He missed. "I looked at him and said, Good try, Phil. You can only do what you can do," Mahan said. "At some point, youve got to get a bounce or two and make a putt. I think he wants to win that tournament more than anything." The thought of Mickelson at Pinehurst stirs emotions. Stewart died in a freak plane crash four months after he won that U.S. Open. Mickelson carried a pager in his golf bag that week and pledged to withdraw if his wife went into labour. His first child, Amanda, was born the next day. Fifteen years later, the pressure is only greater. "Maybe it is his strength of mind, or his short game, that has enabled him to put himself in contention as so many times," Ferrie said. 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Chris Heisey connected for his first grand slam and Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in a career high-tying four runs as Cincinnati took advantage of Tampa Bays depleted pitching staff for a 12-4 victory on Sunday.OAKLAND, Calif. - After reserve Marreese Speights finished a one-handed dunk over Travis Outlaw in the fourth quarter, teammates Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry jumped off the Golden State Warriors bench and ran onto the floor in celebration. Speights stood at half court and encouraged the announced sellout crowd of 19,596 — or what was left of it, anyway — by waving his arms in the air. His teammates laughed, and so did almost everybody in the arena. Everybody, that is, except the Sacramento Kings. Klay Thompson scored 21 points, Curry had 13 points and five assists and the Warriors moved closer to securing a playoff berth by routing the Kings 102-69 on Friday night. "It was loud in there and my teammates were all the way on the court," said Speights, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds. "It was good to see support like that." The Warriors led 59-27 at halftime and 75-33 early in the third quarter, turning the game into a laugher. It was the fewest points Golden State has allowed this season and the fewest points Sacramento has scored. Not only did the Warriors (47-29) match last seasons win total, they also gained ground in the Western Conference playoff race. Golden State moved within 1 1/2 games of fifth-place Portland with six games to play after the Trail Blazers lost to Phoenix. "I just got a feeling well win more games than we did last year," Warriors coach Mark Jackson joked. "I got a strong feeling about that." DeMarcus Cousins finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Rudy Gay scored 10 points for the rebuilding Kings (27-49), who looked lost and lethargic against their Northern California rivals. Golden State outshot the Kings 44.7 per cent to 32.1 per cent, which was a season low by a Warriors opponent and a season low for Sacramento. The Warriors also outrebounded the Kings 58-44 and forced 16 turnovers to sweep the season series (4-0) for the first time since going 5-0 against Sacramento in 1991-92. "We were tentative. I thought we played soft for long stretches," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "We were not aggressive, we were very hesiitant and they had us on our heels.ddddddddddddquot; The Warriors crushed the Kings even while playing without starting centre Andrew Bogut and power forward David Lee. It was the fifth straight game Lee has missed because of a strained right hamstring and the fourth game in a row Bogut has sat out with a bruise in his pelvis and groin area. Jermaine ONeal had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Draymond Green added 10 points and 10 rebounds to help Golden State outscore Sacramento 54-28 in the paint. With Golden States starting big men sidelined, the coast was clear for Cousins to dominate down low. Instead, Sacramentos centre picked up two fouls in the first 1:48, Malone was called for a technical foul trying to defend him and the Warriors shut down Sacramento the rest of the quarter — and most of the game. The Kings started 1-for-11 shooting, including missing 10 straight shots and committing eight turnovers during a span of nearly nine minutes. The Warriors whipped the crowd into a frenzy after converting all those turnovers into a flurry of fast-break dunks. "It happened pretty fast, but once it started to happen, I just think guys got rattled," said Cousins, who spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench with a towel over his head. "We just never really recovered." With most of the team struggling and point guard Isaiah Thomas out for the sixth consecutive game with a bruised right quadriceps, the Kings provided little punch — and even less fight. Green caught a full-court pass from ONeal for an uncontested layup early in the third quarter. ONeal put his hands in the air as if he was signalling for a touchdown. The Warriors went ahead 75-33 moments later and spent most of the fourth quarter laughing and smiling on the bench, especially after Speights slam. NOTES: The fewest points the Kings had scored in a game previously this season came in a 99-79 loss to San Antonio on March 21. ... The fewest points the Warriors had allowed was in a 76-74 loss to the Spurs on Nov. 8. ... The Warriors finished 8-0 at home against Pacific Division opponents for the first time in franchise history. ' ' '