“I had two great rounds, and I had two pathetic rounds,” Mickelson said.
Two shots back at day’s start, this championship looked like it might be falling into Mickelson’s hands. With 54-hole leader J.B. Holmes making bogey at the second hole, Mickelson was within a shot of the lead, but his game wasn’t there to take advantage.
A day after charging into contention with a 63, Mickelson closed with three bogeys, a double bogey and a birdie. He slid into a tie for 11th. His first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this year eluded him with some sloppy play in the Green Mile, Quail Hollow’s three finishing holes.
Mickelson four-putted the 16th hole for a double bogey, and then he hit his tee shot at the 17th deep into the gallery, scrambling to make bogey.
The week was marked by inconsistency, with brilliance and frustration taking turns ruling over Mickelson’s game. He opened with a 67, followed it up with a 75, charged with that 63, and closed with the 76.
“I'll use this as a stepping stone,” Mickelson said. “I've felt good and healthy all week. I have for a couple of months now. And I hit a lot of good shots this week. I'll see Dave Stockton tomorrow and see if I can get this putter a little more consistent, because I had two great putting days, and then I had just two horrific ones.”
Mickelson took 33 putts Sunday. He missed a 3-footer for par at the eighth. He missed a 6-footer for par at the 17th and then a 3-footer for bogey there.
The good news is that in a year where back pain and a strained oblique have limited him, Lefty’s seeing flashes of form.
“I hit the ball really well today,” Mickelson said. “I hit a lot of good shots. I was not displeased at all. I thought I drove the ball really well and hit a lot of great iron shots ... It was on the greens. I just couldn't get it in the hole.”