Rickie Fowler optimistic about majors

In pursuit of his first major championship, Phil Mickelson never saw the glass as anything but half-full.

Close calls didn't change that. He was runner-up in the PGA Championship at Atlanta in 2001, third in the Masters the following year and then gave Tiger Woods a stiff challenge at Bethpage Black in finishing runner-up at the U.S. Open.

''I think that it would be much more difficult to handle had I not even been in contention,'' Mickelson said. ''I love to compete for these championships. ... And to be part of it, to be able to have a shot, compete in the end was a wonderful experience, even though I didn't win.''

Fast forward 15 years to Rickie Fowler, who would appear to have the same positive outlook.

Fowler had arguably his best chance yet at a major in the U.S. Open, mainly because of his experience. He was two shots out of the lead at Erin Hills. He was one shot out of the lead at the Masters two months ago. He was in the final group at Royal Liverpool and in the penultimate group at Valhalla in 2014.

Sunday wasn't his best day off the tee on the front nine and holing putts on the back nine. It resulted in a 72, and what figured to be his biggest disappointment yet. But it sure didn't sound like one.

''If you look at the negatives too much, I mean, you're going to be stuck doing that the whole time,'' Fowler said. ''You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, just because that doesn't happen a whole lot. I think Tiger had the best winning percentage of all time at 30 percent, and you're lucky to even sniff close to 10. You have to say, 'Hey, it's a major. We played well this week.'

''Even though the scores were somewhat lower than a normal U.S. Open, to finish in double digits under par at a major, especially the Open, it was a good week.''

Mickelson didn't win his first major until he was 33.

Sergio Garcia, who didn't cope with losing nearly as well as Mickelson or Fowler, broke through this year at the Masters when he was 37.