By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- For the second time this year, Spencer Levin saw his shot at that elusive first PGA TOUR victory unravel on the back nine.
On Sunday, Levin, who started the final round of the Memorial Tournament with a one-stroke lead, birdied his first hole, then ran off eight straight pars and was still ahead by two strokes when he made the turn. That lead evaporated, though, with a back-nine 40 as the indomitable Tiger Woods charged to his 73rd career victory and his second in four starts.
It was an unfortunate case of deja vu for Levin who had taken a six-stroke lead into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February only to shoot another 75 that included a back nine 39. Kyle Stanley was the winner there, a week after he, too, had squandered the final-round lead.
"I don't know," the disappointed Levin said. "I just got to find a way to get a little tougher there on the back nine. That's it. I've just got to find a way to trust myself a little more. The mind starts wandering, and it's easy to do. I tried my hardest obviously ... just got to drive it better. That's the bottom line. Today if I would have drove it well on the back nine, I would have had a chance to win."
Levin missed four fairways on the back nine Sunday and hit just 50 percent for the day. He made three bogeys, one double bogey and just one birdie in his final nine holes.
At the same time, Levin led the field in strokes gained-putting and putts per round while finishing second in putts per green in regulation.
""Maybe just a couple of doubts here and there in your swing
once in a while," Levin said. "I don't know. I didn't have it on
the back nine. Everything was fine going to 10, and bad swing on
10, bad swing on 11, still made par, bad swing on 13, bad swing on
12. Bad swing on 17.
"I mean, I knew Tiger was going to play good today. He always does. And I knew Rory (Sabbatini) would play good, too, and Rickie (Fowler). I figured everybody would play good like they always do.
"I'm not naïve. I knew I had to play good to win. If I would have shot under par today, I would have won. I mean, the course is hard, but I knew I was going to have to play well, and under par today would have been a really good round. That's just the way it is out here. You've got to have one real low one and then two good ones or play every round good pretty much to win out here."
Levin said he was headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep. He'll be playing in a 36-hole qualifer for the U.S. Open on Monday at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.