Monday, May 21, 2018

PGA runnerup Phil Mickelson not that happy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Phil Mickelson hardly sounded like a guy who nearly won his sixth major championship.

He wasn't about to let a strong finish at the PGA Championship cloud the way he felt about his year.

Mickelson was right in the middle of a riveting four-man duel Sunday, but he faded on the back nine of the final round and lost to Rory McIlroy by a stroke. He closed with 5-under 66 for 15-under 269.

It was an encouraging performance after a largely disappointing season. He hasn't won since the 2013 British Open, and he wasn't a factor in the first three majors. Now, he's ready to work on weaknesses in his game.

"I've got some regrouping to do these next three or four months," Mickelson said. "I have some glaring areas in my game that I have to work on.

"Short irons were terrible this year as a whole. It's usually a strength, and I've got to get that back," he said. Then Mickelson mentioned his driving, especially missing the fairway at the 16th and 17th holes. "Those two tee shots hurt. Those are things I've got to address. I've got to. I don't mind being wild, but when you've got to get in the fairway, you've got to be able to do it."

Players upset: Heavy rain brought another round of player complaints about not being allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in soggy conditions.

Play was halted for 1 hour, 51 minutes in the final round after an inch of rain fell in about 45 minutes, creating temporary ponds and streams that had workers scrambling to squeegee water from fairways and greens. Showers also forced an hour-long delay Friday morning.

In both instances, tournament officials decided not to allow players to use preferred lies, except when a ball came to rest in standing water. That didn't sit well with some players, who struggled after play resumed.

"To me, it's fair out there if you can play the ball up," Graeme McDowell said. "The ball is picking up mud. … Common sense has to prevail at some point. … If they played the ball up to me, didn't matter what they did, they made the right call. It was the wrong call to play the ball down, simple."

U.S. Ryder Cup team: Mickelson picked up a small consolation prize. He extended his American record by qualifying for his 10th consecutive Ryder Cup team. The PGA Championship was the final qualifying event for nine Americans to make the team that will face Europe next month in Scotland. Mickelson was on the outside going into the week. Bubba Watson led the final points list. He was followed by Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker, Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. Captain Tom Watson will announce his three picks Sept. 2.