CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Mickelson took a one-shot lead with a chip that settled inches away for a tap-in birdie on the 14th, and he was poised to widen his lead on the par-5 15th. His second shot came up just short and into the bunker, but Mickelson could only blast that out to 12 feet and he left the birdie putt short. That proved costly.
He missed a 6-foot par putt on the 16th — at the point, Ernst and Lynn had finished at 8-under 280 — and three-putted from 65 feet away off the green on the 17th for bogey.
“I’m pretty bummed out,” Mickelson said. “I thought that this was one I had in control. If I could have gotten that bunker shot up-and-down on 15, I would have had a two-shot lead heading into those last three holes, which I know are difficult holes, so it would have been nice to have that.
“There is just no excuse,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or difficult. I should have made par.”
Even though hardly anyone was paying attention to Ernst — not with so many big names in the hunt over the last two hours — he might have played the best golf.
Ernst hit a beautiful wedge from about 100 yards into 4 feet to escape with par on the 12th. He missed birdie putts from 5 feet on the 14th after nearly driving the green, and he missed another birdie putt from 6 feet on the 16th. But he made the birdie that mattered, on the 18th in regulation, to set up his big win.