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Andy Murray's three fruitless trips to the finals of the Australian Open? Child's play. The Buffalo Bills' four straight losses in the Super Bowl? Impressive, but still a disappointing disappointment. For real futility, Mickelson is your man. Six times, he's come in second at the U.S. Open. Six times.

"Truly," writes Grantland founder and sportswriter Bill Simmons, "Phil Mickelson is the greatest not-quite-the-greatest in the history of pro sports. No one else possesses that uncanny blend of exceptional talent, terrific drive, and that intangible something that keeps him from being a champion."

In a consoling phone call to Mickelson following his heartbreaking loss at this year's Open, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said, "San Diego is proud to call you a resident, Phil. As the second-best city in Southern California, we feel we're the perfect home for a true runner-up like yourself."

Jan Winer, a columnist for the Buffalo Dispatch, sounded a rare note of dissent, saying that Buffalo's status as #2 among #2s made it an even more perfect #2 in terms of sheer almostness, but he was quickly shouted down by his peers. "When it comes to picking the guy with the goose egg by his name, it's 'Nil Phil' all the way," quipped ESPN.com columnist Rick Reilly. "You can bet on it. I always do."

Reached for comment, Mickelson pointed out that he has in fact won three Masters and a PGA Championship. "Doesn't that count for anything?" he asked.

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