PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The crowd was roaring, the birdies were dropping and Tiger Woods looked like his vintage self for the final 12 holes of the U.S. Open.
The problem for Woods was what happened on the first 60 holes.
Woods salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend at Pebble Beach by birdieing six of his final 12 holes Sunday to finish the tournament at 2-under par, far behind the top contenders on a weekend made for low scores.
Woods finally got in on the action after bogeys on four of the first six holes with an impressive turnaround that even he couldn't explain.
"I wish I would have known because I would have turned it around a little earlier than that, he said. "Again, got off to another crappy start and was able to fight it off. Turned back around and got it to under par for the week which is — normally it's a good thing, but this week the guys are definitely taking to it."
The problem for Woods all weekend was his inability to take advantage of the scoring opportunities on the first seven holes at Pebble Beach. He played that stretch at 2-over par for the tournament and 4 over in the final two rounds.
Woods left his approach shots short on three of the early bogeys on Sunday and hit a tee shot into the rough at the par-3 fifth hole on the other. As he walked off the sixth green after his fourth bogey, Woods trudged toward the seventh tee, head down, seemingly defeated.
But then he made a 15-footer for birdie at 7, hit an approach to 5 feet on 8 for another birdie and drained a 40-foot putt on 13, prompting a fan to yell, "The comeback has started!"
While that might have been a bit of hyperbole, Woods hit another great approach shot on 16 to get back under par for the tournament and closed it out with another on 18 to the delight of the fans.
"Just because I got off to a bad start doesn't mean it's over," he said. "Keep grinding, keep playing. And I was able to turn my round around today as well as yesterday. So rounds that could have easily slipped away and kind of gone the other way pretty easily I was able it to turnaround."
The final round of 69 tied for Woods' second-best closing round ever at a U.S. Open, behind only the 67 at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he had a record-setting 15-stroke win.
Now after starting the year by winning his first major since 2008 at the Masters, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship last month and finished far out of the lead at the U.S. Open.
He plans to take a few weeks off from competition before gearing up for a run at his 16th career major next month at the British Open, played on an unfamiliar course to him at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
"I'm looking forward to getting up there and taking a look at the golf course and trying to figure out," Woods said. "I hope that my practice rounds are such that we get different winds, especially on a golf course that I've never played, and to get a different feel how it could play for the week. And definitely have to do my homework once I get there."
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