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CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is a veteran of 11 Ryder Cups but he could not recall ever being part of a match where a total of 10 birdies was not enough to secure a win, as he found to his cost at Hazeltine National on Sunday.
The American left-hander made almost every putt he looked at during an extraordinary battle against Spaniard Sergio Garcia in the last-day singles, the pair piling up 19 birdies between them before the match finished all square.
Mickelson rolled in a 25-footer for birdie at the par-four last before leaping high into the air in celebration, then Garcia followed suit by burying a 10-footer.
"This was a hard-fought battle today and a lot of emotion," Mickelson told reporters as the U.S. reclaimed the Ryder Cup with a 17-11 victory over Europe. "I thought that we both played really well and probably fitting end to have it a tie."
Asked if he had ever seen a Cup match where 10 birdies was not enough to earn a full point, the five-times major champion replied: "Probably not, at least that I've been involved in.
"It was a good day, a fun day. I'm just excited that there's a lot of red up there and our guys have played some incredible golf this week."
Garcia, who has now competed in eight Ryder Cups, was left shaking his head after ending the slugfest all square despite making nine birdies on his own, including the last four holes.
"It was amazing," said the 36-year-old Spaniard, who beat Mickelson 3 and 2 in the last-day singles at the 2004 Ryder Cup in Detroit. "To shoot nine-under and end up tying the match, it's obviously heartbreaking.
"But I gave it everything I had. I don't think I could have done anything differently. Phil just made it from everywhere and played well."
It was a fluctuating but tight encounter where neither player ever got further than 1-up.
"A couple of shots here and there, a couple turning points on 12," said Garcia, who had been 1-up after 11 holes. "He hit a great tee shot there, it almost goes in, he makes the putt.
"Next hole I lip out from the bunker, he makes the putt for par. It's tough but it was a great match."
Garcia now has a 3-4-1 (win-loss-halve) record in Ryder Cup singles, while Mickelson is 5-5-1.
Editing by Andrew Both