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Bjorn & Elkington just fall short

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Australian Steve Elkington came achingly close at the U.S. PGA Championship to lose by one stroke, and both praised winner Phil Mickelson as a deserving champion.

"Phil deserves this more than anybody," Bjorn said about the American left-hander, who added the U.S. PGA Championship crown on Monday to the U.S. Masters title he won last year.

"He's not a one-major guy, he's a 10-major guy. He's going to go on now and contend for majors as he's always done, but it's going to be easier and easier for him to win them now.

"And he deserves greatness. He's come so close for so many years, and the way he did things this week was better than the next guy."

Elkington was also gracious in defeat.

"He led the tournament all week. It's a hard course to hold the lead on," said the Australian, winner of the 1995 U.S. PGA Championship at Riviera, who has struggled over the years with a series of injuries and ailments.

Bjorn and Elkington narrowly missed birdie putts on the 18th hole ahead of Mickelson that could have changed the outcome.

The Dane, seeking to become the first European to win the title since Scotland-born Tommy Armour 75 years ago, had to stifle a celebration when his 20-foot birdie caught the right edge of the cup and lipped out.

"Everybody in the world thought that was going in," said a disappointed Bjorn.

"You stand up, you hit it, it was on a perfect line and a foot from the hole it was going nowhere else but in the hole. Somehow it stayed out."

Elkington watched his 10-foot birdie putt at the par-five 18th slide by the left side of the hole.

"I didn't quite get exactly the right read I wanted to on that last putt," he said. "I was very happy with the way I hit the putt. It was on the inside left. I'd like to see it on tape and see what it did but it looked good from my angle."

The Australian, who briefly held the tournament lead midway through Sunday's play, had balanced some good luck with bad luck at the last hole.

His wayward tee shot at 18 was headed for trouble on the left, but it smacked into a tree and bounced back into the fairway.

His second shot, however, unluckily settled in the back of a divot. He overcame that with a fine shot close to the pin only for the ball to slide by the cup on his birdie putt.

Elkington posted a final-round 71, and Bjorn a 72 as 12 players returned to Baltusrol after Sunday's suspension of play due to lightning.

The two runners-up finished at three-under 277, while Mickelson made his birdie putt at 18, from inside three feet, to claim victory at four-under 276.


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