Tiger might be the best golfer we will ever see, and Rory McIlroy is the best young talent in 2 decades.

But no one captivates the public like Phil Mickelson.

While existing in his prime in the shadow of Tiger, Mickelson managed to create a persona with which the everyman somehow identifies. He is always been rich, good looking, and just a little bit arrogant; but usually in a manner that breeds admiration, not jealousy.

He also has won 41 times, with four majors. When he loses, it usually is because he ruined a chance to win by being too daring.

Indeed, except for the Pine Straw 6-iron at the Masters, Mickelson is probably better known for his Sunday meltdowns: the idiotic driver at the 2006 U.S. Open and the wronghanded wedge at the 2012 Masters.

Mickelson yesterday at Quail Hollow hit a bunker on No. 15, found the rough twice on 16 and missed a 9-footer for a par save on 17 to drop two shots coming in. He missed a birdie putt on 18 and missed a playoff in the Wells Fargo Championship by a stroke.

And so the quilt gained a patch.

Arthritic and often irrelevant, Mickelson, at 42, might be making his last runs at most of these tour stops. Which will stand out more when he finishes?

That Pine Straw 6-iron at No. 13 in his 2010 Masters win? The Jump, when he drained the birdie to win at Augusta National in 2004?

Or Hangdog Phil, bitten again as he sputters in the clutch?

By the way, PGA Tour rookie Derek Ernst, who snuck into the field as the fourth alternate, beat Euro Tour journeyman David Lynn in a playoff.

Both offered better stories by far than an old salt failing at a minor venue.

Unless that old salt is Phil.