Fowler had a 50-foot eagle attempt to tie for the lead. He was well off the mark, and missed the short birdie putt attempt that cost him his third straight runner-up finish in a major. Mickelson was short of the green, and his chip came within inches of dropping for an eagle that would have tied him for the lead.
Mickelson appeared upset that they had to wait to finish the hole — not standard procedure in a PGA Tour event — and he made two references in a TV interview that this is the only championship the PGA of America runs all year.
"It didn't affect the outcome of the championship at all, I don't think," Mickelson said. "It's not what we normally do. It's not a big deal either way."
Mickelson closed with a 66 and was runner-up for the ninth time in a major.
Fowler became the first player in history to finish in the top five at all four majors without winning one. He closed with a 68 and tied for third with Stenson, who fell out of a share of the lead by missing a 3-foot par putt on the 14th hole. Stenson shot a 66.
McIlroy hit his second shot into a bunker, and he had to two-putt from 35 feet for the win. He lagged the first one to tap-in range, and the major was his. McIlroy repeatedly pumped his fist before letting out a scream above the gallery that had been treated to a Sunday it won't soon forget.
McIlroy won his first two majors by eight shots at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship. Only a month ago, McIlroy took a six-shot lead into the final round of the British Open and completed a wire-to-wire win with only a brief scare.
This was different.
"I think I showed a lot of guts out there to get the job done," he said.
It might not have been possible without a 3-wood on the par-5 10th hole. McIlroy watched Fowler make a 30-foot birdie putt ahead of him for the outright lead and knew it was time to get going. He hit his 3-wood lower than he wanted, and further to the left than he wanted, but it turned out perfect.
Once he joined the leaders with a birdie on the 13th, none of the contenders made another birdie the rest of the way until it was too late.
All that was left after an exhausting day of raw emotions was for McIlroy to summon enough energy to hoist the 27-pound Wanamaker Trophy. He crouched before the presentation, trying to collect his thoughts at the last month. Not since Woods in 2008 has anyone won three straight tournaments, and they were big ones — the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship. He played them in a combined 48-under par.
"He's better than everyone else right now," Mickelson said.