PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Tiger Woods keeps saying his game is close.
Standing on the 18th green at Pebble Beach, he never looked so far away.
With the red sleeves from his shirt sticking out from a black vest, Woods could only watch Sunday as Phil Mickelson made one more birdie putt for an 8-under 64, the final touch of a six-shot comeback to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The white scoreboard behind the 18th green was telling.
The first stunner was seeing Mickelson go from a six-shot deficit to a two-shot lead in just six holes. Then he poured it on with a magnificent shot into 2 feet for birdie on the 13th and an aggressive play on the 14th for another one.
Equally shocking was Woods.
He three-putted for par and a 75, a whopping 11 shots worse than Mickelson. Only four other players had a higher score than Woods in the final round, none of whom started the day within range of the leader.
Woods was two shots out of the lead when he walked off the sixth green and then bogeyed the next three holes.
The two biggest names in golf played together in the second-to-last group, both feeling as though they were close to breaking through, both needed a dramatic charge at Pebble Beach.
That player turned out to be Mickelson.
In a big way.
“To put it together this week, and especially the final round, just feels terrific,” Mickelson said. “And it gives me a lot of confidence, but also inspires me. Because I believe now that what I’m doing is correct, and that I’m able to play some of my best golf.”
Woods attributed this mess to only one club in his bag — the putter.
The putting carried him to a 67 at Pebble Beach in the third round, giving him a chance to win for the first time since Sept. 13, 2009 on the PGA Tour. It let him down Sunday, when he missed five putts from under 5 feet.
“I could not get comfortable where I could see my lines,” Woods said. “I couldn’t get the putter to swing. I just could not get comfortable. It was frustrating, because I was looking to somehow getting off to 2- or 3-under par through six. Phil got off to that start. I had a chance to pick it up through the middle part of the round. Instead, it went the other way.”