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'It just never clicked'

Phil Mickelson had high hopes of winning his second PGA Championship all week, and felt he was still in contention heading to the back nine on Sunday. But, he lamented, he could never quite get his game into high gear.

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Phil Mickelson said he saw a lot of good signs in his game this week in Atlanta. (Ted Pio Roda / PGA.com)

By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Until Sunday, Phil Mickelson was the last American to win a major championship. And following a strong performance at the Open Championship at Royal St. Georges, where he tied for second, many hoping to see the U.S. drought end were looking to him to represent the red, white and blue.

But American pride was fulfilled in a different persona as Keegan Bradley won “Glory’s Last Shot,” and the only left-handed winner of the PGA Championship left Atlanta with an even-par 280 score and a tie for 19th. Mickelson, who has four major championships to his credit, will have to wait until at least 2012 to add a fifth.

"I played okay," Mickelson said following his final-round 70. "I played okay this week, just not good enough to make a run. I didn't make enough birdies, but I played okay."

Okay was an operative word for Mickelson all week. Feeling as well as he's felt in a long time in terms of his health, Mickelson had high hopes coming into the 93rd PGA Championship. But his assessment of the course, that "Par is not too tough to make, birdies are very tough to make," manifested itself perfectly on his scorecard. Scores of 71-70-69-70 -- two rounds at even par, one round a shot above and one round a shot below – were only "okay" by his exceedingly high standards.

"I felt like I was one good round away -- of 4 or 5 under par -- the first three days of getting into contention and I just wasn't able to do it," Mickelson lamented. "I really struggled making birdies here. It's very difficult to get the ball close to a lot of the pins here, other than the par 5s, and I just didn't make enough 30- 40-footers."

After making the turn at 2 under on Sunday, Mickelson still felt he had a chance to capture the Wanamaker Trophy. 

"I thought if I could shoot 3, 4, 5 under on the back, with those tough finishing holes, you just never know what's going to happen,” he said. “Unfortunately, I bogeyed 10 and it kind of derailed me. And then I didn't birdie 12.  I was thinking eagle and just made par."

And though his hopes of another major championship title will have to be shelved for another eight months, Mickelson's pleased with his game heading into the final few months of this year.

"I had a lot of good signs," Mickelson stated of his game this week. "I was pretty pleased, it was very close all week, it just never quite clicked.  Hit some good putts on some challenging greens."

And thus, America's fortunes rose with another star this week. Obviously a little disappointed, Mickelson spoke with reporters briefly after his round and then told his caddie, "Bones" Mackay, that he was going to spend some time signing autographs for the kids lining the railing.  Even when Mickelson doesn't win, he can still play the role of American hero pretty well.