Woods falls apart as Mickelson romps home

 

Phil Mickelson went from a six-shot deficit to a two-shot lead in just six holes, closed with an eight-under 64 for a two-shot victory and gave Tiger Woods a thrashing at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am yesterday that not many saw coming.

Mickelson and Woods played in the second-to-last group, and Mickelson beat him by 11 shots. He won for the fourth time at Pebble Beach, and became only the ninth player in PGA Tour history with 40 wins.

"Pebble Beach ... it feels awesome no matter what number it is," Mickelson said. It was anything but that for Woods, who was reduced to a supporting role on an overcast day along the Pacific. Right when it looked as though Woods might still be in the game after holing a bunker shot for birdie on the par-three 12th, Mickelson answered by pouring in a 30-foot par putt.

Mickelson seized control for good with a 40-foot par save on the 15th hole, and he played it safe – Mickelson is capable of that every once in a while – on the 18th hole and still made birdie.

Charlie Wi, who started the final round with a three-shot lead, four-putted for double bogey on the opening hole and never quite recovered. He closed with back-to-back birdies for an even-par 72 and his fifth runner-up finish on tour.

It was the third straight week on tour that the winner started the final round at least six shots behind a 54-hole leader going after his first tour victory.

The shocker, though, was how Woods fell apart. He has been taking big strides with his game over the past few months, and he looked poised to break through after a 67 in the third round got him to within four shots of the lead. But he failed to make birdie on the easy opening stretch.

"I didn't hit it as bad as the score indicated, but I putted awful," Woods said. "As good as I felt on the greens yesterday, I felt bad today. Anything I tried to do wasn't working. Consequently, I made a ton of mistakes on the green."

* Lee Westwood was left the nearly man in Dubai again yesterday as Rafael Cabrera-Bello, ranked 116 places below him, won the Omega Desert Classic with a four- under-par 68. The third-round leader Westwood finished runner-up for the third time after failing to birdie any of the last five holes.

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