Lefty nearly chipped in for eagle off the front of the green, which could have forced a playoff. But a birdie left him lacking by a shot when McIlroy blasted out of a bunker, two-putted for par and signed for 268.
Mickelson got in a bit of a shot at the PGA of America, mentioning that the organization only runs one tournament a year. But he acknowledged that the strange ending didn’t really affect the outcome.
“That’s not what we normally do,” he said. “But it’s not a big deal either way. At least that way, we had a chance to finish.”
For Mickelson, any chance of adding to his three Masters titles, last year’s British Open and the 2005 PGA Championship essentially ended at the 16th hole, where he drove into the rough, left his second shot short of a bunker and nearly chipped in, the ball catching the right lip of the cup before skidding 10 feet past. He missed the putt to save par, dropping out of the lead he shared with McIlroy.
When McIlroy rolled in a birdie at the 17th, the lead grew to two strokes heading to the final hole.
“It was a fun day for me to get in the mix and a fun day for me to make some birdies and move up early so that I had a good chance on the back nine,” Mickelson said. “Had I been able to finish those last five, six holes strong, I could have totally flipped the way I look at this year.”
Maybe his ninth runner-up finish in a major will turn out to be blessing.
“Regardless of how I played this week, I know that I’ve got to address some things,” Mickelson said. “These next four to five years, I really want to make them special.”
Mickelson extended his American record by qualifying for his 10th consecutive Ryder Cup team. The PGA was the final qualifying event for nine Americans to make the team that will face Europe late next month in Scotland. Mickelson jumped from 10th to fifth.