Phil Mickelson snuck up on the field at the 2012 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. When everyone was paying attention to what Tiger Woods would do just four strokes back going into the final round, Mickelson decided to put Woods and the rest of the field in their places.
The lefty showed the rest of the golf world that he's very much in contention for winning a major championship this year with a two-shot victory Feb. 12. Mickelson went from six shots down to two shots into the lead in the span of six holes on the final day.
Tigers normally lay in wait to stalk their prey at the last possible moment, making escape impossible. Not so this day. Woods lost by 11 strokes, playing in the same pairing with Mickelson. It was his fourth victory at the course and became just the ninth PGA Tour golfer to earn 40 or more wins (the same elite group Woods belongs to).
Woods shot a final round 75, three over par. Had he shot a 67, the same score as the day before, Woods would have lost by just a single stroke. Mickelson's victory was more of the same at Pebble Beach. Woods's loss was vintage for him over the past two years. Time and again, he's had leads or close to them going into the final round of a normal PGA Tour event just to lose or get behind even worse than he was.
The tiger has lost its killer instinct and hasn't quite found it yet. Like anything else in nature, those predators that can't hunt for food will wither and eventually become irrelevant. Woods now has two choices. He can let nature take its course or continue fighting.
His new south Florida mansion and golf practice facility isn't free. He'll have to pay for food eventually as well. On this day against a better golfer, Woods simply looked tame. He has lost his instinct for winning and needs to find it fast before he fades.
How much more humility will Woods have to take before he wins again? Apparently a lot. Instead of adapting to the final round conditions to win, he simply turned his tail and ran.
William Browning has covered sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network including golf and local golf courses in southwest Missouri. He currently resides in Branson, Mo.
- Tiger Woods