FORT WORTH - After bogeying the ninth hole Sunday, Phil Mickelson looked at the leaderboard and saw that he trailed first-place Stewart Cink by seven shots.
The comeback that transpired during the next three hours was a blend of Cink sinking and Mickelson surging. It added up to an improbable MasterCard Colonial title for Mickelson and a 27th birthday Cink probably would rather forget.
Cink's 1-over 71 and Mickelson's 63, punctuated by a 35-foot birdie on No. 18, added up to Mickelson's third victory of the 5-month-old PGA Tour season. That ties him with Tiger Woods.
Sunday's victory gave Mickelson his 16th tour title three weeks shy of his 30th birthday. And it made him the first left-handed winner in Colonial's 54-year history.
"Granted, I know Stewart looks at it and knows that it should have been his tournament," said Mickelson, who finished at 12-under 268.
Mickelson said he knew what he Cink was feeling because he felt it at last week's GTE Byron Nelson Classic, when he lost to Jesper Parnevik in a playoff and tied for second with Davis Love III.
When Cink recovers from the shock, he might beg to differ with Mickelson. Mickelson shot a 65 on Sunday at the Nelson. Cink, on a steamy day with almost no wind, was the only player among the top seven finishers who failed to break par.
Then there were the missed putts that may take Cink years to erase from his memory banks. The two-footer on No. 5. The five-footer on No. 6. The four-footer on No. 15.
Cink's par putt miss on 15 gave Mickelson, already in the clubhouse watching on TV, a tie for the lead. Cink, needing a birdie on No. 18 to force a playoff, left his approach short of the green, bogeyed and wound up tying Love (10 under) for second place.
"What he [Mickelson] was doing really wasn't affecting what I was doing," Cink said. "I just didn't feel very good on the greens on the last few holes. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good time to do that."
Mickelson began the round six shots out of the lead. He teed off in the sixth-to-last group and immediately surged, posting birdies on three of his first four holes.
Mickelson said he thought he needed to shoot at least a 62. He said that when he bogeyed No. 9 to fall to 7 under for the tournament, it spurred him to shoot for more pins on the back nine.
It worked. Mickelson birdied Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 15.
Cink was shaky off the tee, yanking drives on Nos. 12 and 14. And he pushed his drive on No. 15.
Cink scrambled for pars on Nos. 12 and 14. But his wildness finally bit him on the par-4 15th. Moments after Mickelson's birdie on No. 18 pulled him to within one, Cink punched out of the right rough on 15, chipped to five feet and missed the par putt.
Tie ball game. Cink had an opportunity to regain the solo lead on the par-3 16th but missed a 10-foot birdie putt.