February 12, 2012

Tiger comes up short at Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Tiger Woods has had many memorable rounds at famed Pebble Beach Golf Links. Sunday’s wasn’t one of them.

Woods, making his first PGA Tour start of the year, began the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am four shots off the lead, but never got on tracked in cool, overcast conditions. Struggling on the greens, he slipped to a 3-over-par 75 and tied for 15th, nine strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson.

“I didn’t hit it as bad as the score indicated, but I putted awful,” said a composed Woods, who three-putted twice and used 31 overall. “I just couldn’t get comfortable.”

Typical of his day, Woods hit a great second shot to the par-5 18th hole and reached the green in two, then three-putted for a par from 35 feet.

“It is frustrating,” he said. “I made everything yesterday and nothing today.”

Playing in the penultimate group with amateur partner Tony Romo, Mickelson and amateur Skip McGee, Woods started slowly. He hit a nice drive at the par-4 first, but came up 36 feet short of the pin with his approach shot and two-putted for par.

At the reachable-in-two, par-5 second, Woods hit a poor drive in the right fairway bunker, hit a nice lay-up shot 134 yards from the green, then hit a well-judged approach shot five feet right of the cup.

Tiger was fooled by the ensuing putt’s break, however, and missed right, with the ball failing to scare the hole.

After a long two-putt par at No. 3, Woods hit an iron up the fairway at the 293-yard, par-4 fourth. With only 90 yards left to the flag, his approach came up 30 feet short of the hole, and he two-putted for par.

At the 180-yard, par-3 fifth, Woods hit an 8-iron right at the flag but came up 13 feet short of the hole. His birdie putt looked true, but slid right toward the Pacific Ocean, and he settled for par.

Needing to make a move, Woods hit a big 3-wood off the tee at the par-5 sixth. After a lengthy wait for the group in front to clear the putting surface, Tiger blistered a 3-iron from 228 yards that hit just short of the green and took an unlucky hop toward the back, leaving a quick, 47-foot, downhill eagle putt. Woods ran his speedy eagle try nearly six feet past the cup but converted the comeback putt for his first birdie of the round.

At the 106-yard, par-3 seventh, Woods played his short, downhill tee shot 16 feet below the hole, but ran his birdie attempt three feet past. He missed coming back, sustaining a tough, three-putt bogey.

Moving to the 418-yard, par-4 eighth, Woods missed the green with his approach shot, then hit a nice sand wedge five feet from the cup and missed his par putt. Tiger made his third straight bogey at the par-4 ninth, where he hit his second shot into the left greenside bunker and failed to get up-and-down.

Woods drove into the left fairway bunker at the par-4 10th and came up 70 yards short of the green with his second shot. A poor chip shot left him 13 feet from the hole, but Tiger steadied and knocked in the putt.

At the par-4 11th, Woods just missed a 25-foot, uphill birdie putt; the ball needed one more roll. After hitting a 4-iron into the left bunker at the tough, 205-yard, par-3 12th, Tiger holed out his sand shot from 40 feet for a birdie.

Hoping to seize the momentum, Woods flushed a driver down the fairway at the uphill, par-4 13th, but the ball rolled into a deep divot. Tiger did well to get his second shot onto the front fringe, then narrowly missed a 60-foot birdie putt.

At the par-5 14th, Woods drove into the right fairway bunker, hit a nice escape shot down the fairway, then knocked his third shot over the back of the putting surface. Faced with a tricky chip, Tiger failed to get the ball on the green, then chipped to within a foot, sustaining a bogey.

After a perfect drive at the downhill, par-4 15th, Woods misjudged his 130-yard approach shot, and the ball carried over the green. From there, he hit a nice flop shot three feet from the cup and lipped out the par putt.

Woods gave himself a good birdie opportunity at the par-4 16th, but left a nine-foot try just short.

He two-putted the par-3 17th for par, then closed with a disappointing par at 18.

“What’s frustrating is I had a chance and all I had to do was get off to a good start today and I didn’t do that,” Woods said. “I wanted to be 3-under through six or seven, but didn’t do that. I missed a ton of short putts today.”

Woods hit the ball solidly most of the week. On Sunday, he hit nine of 18 greens and 10 of 13 fairways in regulation.

He finished the week tied for 62nd in putting.