Tiger Woods, Phil, Ernie all miss big opportunity at US Open
Tiger Woods had the most to gain by winning the US Open. But a US Open win would have been the first for Phil Mickelson. And for Ernie Els, a chance to stay relevant.
PEBBLE BEACH, California
Even with 21 majors, they still had everything to gain by winning the U.S. Open.Skip to next paragraph
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For Tiger Woods, a chance to end six months of bad publicity with a 15th major. For Phil Mickelson, a golden opportunity to win something other than silver in the U.S. Open. For Ernie Els, a much-needed reminder that his best golf in the majors is not behind him.
Forgetting about Sunday at Pebble will not be easy.
He shot 75 and remains tied with Hale Irwin.
Els was tied for the lead in the final round, for about only 15 minutes, but he had not been in that position at a major in six years. Worse than his bogey-double bogey-bogey stretch along the coast was missing three putts inside 8 feet in a four-hole stretch late in the round.
As for Mickelson?
He started with a birdie and never made another one the rest of the day. Mickelson knows as well as anyone that bogeys are acceptable in a U.S. Open. What hurt him were a series of pars in the first hour, none more painful than the 328-yard fourth hole. He hit a 3-wood to 15-feet for eagle and three-putted for what must have felt like a bogey.
The winner was Graeme McDowell, who made only one birdie in his round of 74 to win a U.S. Open where the stars didn't shine.
It wasn't the first time this has happened in a major.
Seven years ago in the British Open, three of the top 10 players in the world challenged for the claret jug on the back nine of Royal St. George's — Woods, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh — only to finish in the top five behind surprise winner Ben Curtis.
For all the majors that Woods, Mickelson and Els have won, they know something about losing. All of them have had close calls at least a half-dozen times in majors, when the championship turns on a putt or a bounce.
In this case, it's a question of whom it hurts the most.
Woods is desperate for a victory to shift focus from his personal life, and to establish anew some form of intimidation he once had. Instead, this was the third straight major that Woods teed off in one of the final two pairings without winning.