PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Davis Love III was right: Staying ahead is even tougher than coming from behind at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Fortunately for Love, he's capable of doing both.
Love surrendered a three-stroke lead over Tom Lehman with six holes to play on Sunday, but made a short birdie putt on the 18th hole for a one-stroke victory _ his first win since his first Pebble Beach triumph in 2001.
On the fourth straight day of perfect weather on the Monterey Peninsula, two veterans whose careers have lagged recently battled down the stretch of an entertaining final round in the popular pro-am.
Love, who made up a seven-stroke deficit to win at Pebble Beach in 2001, took advantage of the conditions with an extraordinary string of birdies, but Lehman caught him down the stretch, setting up a dramatic finish.
After beginning the day with a two-stroke lead, Love made six birdies in the eight holes around the turn. Lehman charged back with three straight birdies on the back nine and another on the 17th, but Love made a 4-foot birdie putt on the 18th _ moments after Lehman missed a similar putt.
``A win for me after two years of coming close and not being 100 percent physically, that's great for me,'' said Love, who got his 15th PGA Tour victory with a final-round 68 to finish at 14-under 274 for the tournament. ``It feels like a great start.''
Love thrust his hands into the air shortly after the last shot. His share of the $5 million purse was $900,000 _ the biggest paycheck in 18 years on tour for the third-leading money winner in PGA history.
Before his victory at Pebble Beach in 2001, Love had gone 62 events and 34 months between victories. This time, he had been without a win in 44 official events over 24 months while playing a slightly reduced schedule because of neck and back problems.
Lehman finished with a 5-under 67 to go 13 under for the tournament. It was his best finish since the 2001 Sony Open in Hawaii _ and a thrilling result for Lehman, whose wife, Melissa, is nearly ready to deliver their fourth child. He doesn't plan to go back East with the tour following the West Coast swing.
Tim Herron _ who shot a final-round 66 _ and Mike Weir finished third at 276, two strokes behind Love. Weir, off to the best start of his career, won last week's Bob Hope Classic and held the lead over playing partner Love on the front nine.
Love said the win was even tougher than his triumph in 2001, when he made up seven strokes against Weir, Phil Mickelson and the rest of the field. Maybe that's because the conditions were gorgeous _ and decidedly out of the ordinary at the normally soggy course.
Love fell behind Weir with two early bogeys. He made up the deficit with a phenomenal string of birdies _ including the par-3 12th, where Love's tee shot took a serendipitous bounce off a greenside photographer to within feet of the cup.
Love led by three strokes after another birdie on the 13th, but Lehman kept the same steady pace he maintained through all four days _ and then made his move with three straight birdies midway through the back nine.
Lehman hit an 18-footer for a dramatic birdie on the par-3 17th hole to go 13 under _ just moments before Love, playing cautiously for the first time all day, hit into the sand and the rough before missing a short downhill putt for bogey on the 16th, pulling him back into a tie with Lehman.
After Love saved par on the 17th with a tricky 8-foot putt that hung on the lip for an instant, Lehman made an outstanding chip from the rough around the famous 18th green. But Lehman missed the birdie attempt with his long putter, leaving the door open for Love's outstanding iron shot to the green and a two-putt finish.
In a tournament known for dramatic final-round comebacks _ particularly in the last three years, when Tiger Woods, Love and Matt Gogel all roared from behind _ Love became the first 54-hole winner to hold on since Brett Ogle in 1993.
Love was 21st on the money list in 2002 despite going without a victory; in fact, he hasn't won anywhere except Pebble Beach since the 1998 MCI Classic.
Mickelson shot an 80 on Sunday to finish at 296 _ dead last among those who made the cut.