PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Tiger Woods came up short in his bid for a 15th major championship Sunday in the 110th U.S. Open Championship at cool, dark and breezy Pebble Beach Golf Links. He closed with a 4-over-par 75 and tied for fourth at 3-over 287, three strokes behind winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
It marked only the fifth start of the year for Woods, who also tied for fourth at the Masters Tournament.
"I feel like I can play now," a disappointed Woods said afterward. "I had a chance to win both majors."
Winning is always his goal, but Woods feels encouraged about his game going forward.
"I feel like I put some pieces together this week," he said. "It's a process. It's a long process, but I've put some of it together, and I hit some shots this week that I haven't hit in a long time."
Woods blamed several mental mistakes for his over-par play Sunday, adding that the course played very difficult.
"I did hit one bad shot at 3," Woods said. "I hit another one at 10 where I didn't trust my instincts and hit the wrong club at 12 and just made an awful swing. Take away those three mental errors, and I'm right there."
Statistically, Woods hit eight of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in regulation. He also slipped to 31 putts after using 26 on Saturday, when he shot 66.
"Yesterday, I made everything because it was all below the hole," he said. "These greens are bumpy enough where putts above the holes -- it's just pot luck."
Teeing off in the second-to-last twosome with Gregory Havret of France, Woods started the final round at 1-under par for the tournament, five strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson. All week long, Woods struggled on the opening holes, and Sunday was no exception.
Woods drove into the left rough with a 3-iron off the first tee, then hit his second shot 35 feet above the hole. Woods cautiously lagged his first putt eight feet short and missed for his third three-putt bogey of the tournament.
He hit a big driver at the par-4 second and gave himself a good look at birdie from 14 feet, but the putt broke severely from right to left and never had a chance of going in.
For the second time in four rounds, Woods pull-hooked a 3-wood at the short dogleg, right-to-left third hole and was lucky to find the ball in tall grass in a deep swale. Somehow, he muscled his second shot through a narrow opening near the green in the left rough, grunting as he swung the club. He then lofted a sand wedge 12 feet right of the hole and made the miraculous par-saving putt.
The good momentum was short-lived. At the 328-yard, par-4 fourth, Woods drove into the left fairway bunker with an iron and came up short of the green in two. Electing to putt from 50 feet, he ran his birdie attempt six feet beyond the hole and lipped out his par attempt.
Woods did well to two-putt the par-3 fifth hole from long range. But at the par-5 sixth, usually a birdie hole, he pushed his drive into the ocean on the right -- sustaining a one-stroke penalty -- and he was unable to save par, missing a nine-foot putt.
Frustrated with his rough start, Woods broke through with a birdie at the 94-yard, par-3 seventh, the shortest par-3 in U.S. Open history. He smartly played left of the back-right pin placement, winding up 35 feet away, and buried the birdie putt.
With the crowd urging him on, Woods found the fairway at the tough, par-4 eighth, but came up short of the green with his approach shot. He had the option of chipping or putting off the tight fairway and chose the latter, coming up nearly 10 feet short of the cup. Woods missed from there for his fourth bogey of the side.
He nearly holed an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-4 ninth, but came up just short. Woods made the turn in 3-over 38 and trailed McDowell by six strokes with nine holes remaining.
Following a good drive at the par-4 10th, leaving himself a short iron from just over 120 yards, Woods came up short-right in the hazard. Lucky to find his ball in tall grass, he chopped his third shot 15 feet past the hole and two-putted for another bogey, shaking his head in disgust.
The frustration continued at the uphill, par-4 11th. Woods hit a beautiful approach shot eight feet left of the hole, but his birdie putt dove low at the hole.
At the 203-yard, par-3 12th, Woods missed the green badly to the left. He gouged his second shot 20 feet by the hole and two-putted for a bogey.
"My instincts were telling me to hit a five, play it to the right, just draw it in there, and we thought four would be better, hold it up against the wind," Woods said of his pre-shot discussion with caddie Steve Williams.
Woods gave himself a great birdie opportunity at the par-4 13th, knocking his second shot 11 feet above the hole. The putt looked good but burned the right edge of the hole, and a disbelieving Woods was unable to jump-start his round.
After a big drive at the par-5 14th, the second-hardest hole of the tournament, Woods went for the green in two, making solid contact but catching the deep, front-left bunker. From there, he hit a wonderful explosion shot to within six inches of the cup and tapped in for his second birdie of the round.
Woods had another near-miss birdie from just off the front of the green at the downhill, par-4 15th, as his 23-foot attempt slid left at the hole.
At the par-4 16th, he drove into the right rough and had 170 yards to the green. Woods came up short of the green in heavy rough, gouged his third shot 12 feet below the hole and poured in a par-saving, right-to-left putt.
At the 217-yard, par-3 17th, Woods hit a towering iron that simply refused to hold the ultra-firm green and bounced into the back rough. He hit a deft, downhill chip two feet from the hole and made the putt.
Hoping to create excitement, USGA officials moved the tees up 30 yards at the famous par-5 finishing hole. Thinking eagle, Woods hit driver for the first time all week and blocked it into the right rough. He slashed his second shot just short of the green, hit a nice pitch seven feet past the hole, but was unable to convert, the ball hanging left instead of breaking toward the ocean.
Woods said his strategy was to shoot even par Sunday. As it turned out, that would have won the tournament.
"Our game plan was just if we shot under par for the day, we would probably win," said Woods. "The golf course was playing too hard, too fast, and you can get away from you pretty quickly out there."