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U.S. duo falters down the stretch

Phil Mickelson, who ties for second, hits out of a bunker at No. 16, which accounts for one of his three bogeys over the final seven holes.

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Phil Mickelson, who ties for second, hits out of a bunker at No. 16, which accounts for one of his three bogeys over the final seven holes.

SANDWICH, England — The United States' longest run without a major title since the Masters began in 1934 reached six.

During Sunday's final round of the British Open, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson had the best chances of ending it before tying for second, three back of Darren Clarke.

Mickelson, the last American to win a major (2010 Masters), started five back but shot 5 under through seven. He capped it with an eagle to tie for first.

"Oh, man, that was some of the most fun I've had competitively," said the four-time major champion. "I'm not planning on making a 50-foot putt for eagle, but it just happens. I hit some of the best shots I've hit in the wind … all week."

Mickelson's downfall came at No. 11, when he missed a 2-foot par putt: "Just a stupid mistake. I just lost focus."

From there, Mickelson had four pars and three bogeys to shoot 2-under 68.

Johnson trailed by two when he sent a 2-iron approach on No. 14 out of bounds. He ended up with double-bogey 7 and shot 2-over 72.

"If I had it to do over again, I'd hit a 3-wood instead of a 2-iron," he said.

It was another lost opportunity for Johnson. Last year he led the U.S. Open by three but shot 82, then cost himself a spot in a playoff at the PGA Championship with a two-shot penalty at No. 18 when he didn't realize he was in a bunker.

"The more I put myself in this situation, the better," he said. "The more I learn, the more I understand my game and what happens in this situation."

Weather woes: Almost as soon as Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy completed his 73 (to go with Saturday's 74), he was talking about "getting back into some nice conditions."

His low moment came at No. 7. Just as he was about to strike an 8-footer for birdie, the wind moved his ball. Because he was addressing the ball, he earned a one-shot penalty. He then missed the putt for par.

"I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome's predicted so much by the weather," last month's U.S. Open champion said. "I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind."

Eyeing Augusta: Thomas Bjorn, the first-round co-leader who got in Monday when Vijay Singh withdrew, shot 71 to finish fourth. He earned a berth in next year's Masters, his first since missing the cut in 2007.

Around the links: Tom Lewis, 20, the first-round co-leader, shot 74 to finish at 9 over, tops among the amateurs. … Tom Watson's 6-over 286 was his best score in five Opens at Royal St. George's. He tied for 22nd. … Next year's event is at Lytham and St. Annes in England.

U.S. duo falters down the stretch 07/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 17, 2011 8:46pm]
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