June 17, 2019 / 3:48 AM / 2 months ago

Golf: Woods closes on upbeat note, no happy birthday for Mickelson

PEBBLE BEACH, CA. (Reuters) - Tiger Woods made another awful start before turning on the afterburners to shoot two-under 69 in the final round at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Sunday.

June 16, 2019; Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Tiger Woods after putting on the 8th green during the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

It was too little, too late, but Woods left the oceanside course with some positive vibes after a frustrating week at the scene of his greatest performance.

“Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off,” said Woods, who bogeyed four of the first six holes, the easiest stretch on the course, a day after bogeying two of the first three.

He birdied six holes thereafter on Sunday to finish at two-under 282.

Woods never came close all week to replicating his 15-stroke record runaway of 2000, not that it was realistic at age 43 to expect it.

The Masters champion now turns his attention to next month’s British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, the final major of the season.

“I’ve never been up to Portrush, and I’m looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure it out,” said the 15-times major champion.

While Woods already has three U.S. Open titles under his belt, Phil Mickelson is still seeking his first in a championship that has caused him heartache like no other.

The six-times runner-up, who needs a victory to complete the career grand slam, shot 72 to finish at four-over 288 on his 49th birthday.

He arrived with high hopes at a course where he has won the annual PGA Tour event five times, but was never a factor all week.

That did not stop him from getting plenty of love from the galleries, who sang “Happy Birthday” at various stages of the final round.

“I thought this was a really good chance for me,” Mickelson said.

“I just didn’t putt my best, didn’t chip my best. I actually played okay tee to green.”

Five-times major champion Mickelson was philosophical about never winning his national open.

“Dealing with losing in this game is a huge thing because even the best, the greatest winners, win such a small percentage of the time,” he said.

“But I have had so many special moments here at Pebble Beach. This was my first event as a pro, 1992, here.”

Mickelson also turned his thoughts to the British Open.

“I played Portrush one time with my dad and it was a special, fun golf course,” he said.

“It’s been a while so I don’t remember a lot of the details and subtleties of it.”

Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom

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