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 today, 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 four-foot birdie putt on the 18th -- moments after Lehman missed a similar putt.
"That's probably as nervous as I've ever been playing a round of golf," said Love, who earned his 15th PGA Tour victory with a final-round 68 to finish at 14-under 274 for the tournament. "I was so nervous [on the 18th] because I figured I had to make eagle to win, birdie to tie."
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.
Helping Love build his lead was a fortuitous break at the par-3 12th, when he hit a 5-iron that hopped over the back of the green, hit a photographer's knee and caromed back to within three feet of the hole, enabling him to make the birdie putt.
"Those are the things that happen when things are going your way," Lehman said of Love's fortune on the 12th hole.
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.
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 to finish at 296 -- dead last among those who made the cut.