AUGUSTA, Ga. - Lee Westwood received encouragement from the one person who knew best how much he needed it. Phil Mickelson, the man who had just beaten Westwood to win the Masters, told him to hang in there because his day is coming.

"As I said to him, there's nothing I can say. I've been in that position," Mickelson said after playing in the final group with the Englishman and defeating him by three shots.

"I also told him he is playing some of the best golf in the world, he's an incredible player and I pull for him and I want him to win his first major soon, because he is that type of talent and a quality guy."

They used to say that about Mickelson when it seemed he never would win a major - before he won the 2004 Masters. Now he is a four-time major winner.

Westwood's time just did not arrive Sunday. He birdied the par-5 second hole but didn't have the kind of special day a major requires. He three-putted the par-4 ninth to fall a shot behind Mickelson and missed a four-footer for birdie on 15 to fall three strokes back. Westwood shot 1-under-par 71, his worst round of the week.

"I think whenever you come as close as I've come today, there's a tinge of disappointment, but that doesn't last long," he said. "Phil being the champion he is hit some great shots down the stretch. You know he's been through hard times recently and he deserves a break or two."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Westwood, 36, has experience in perseverance. He has come back from a prolonged, career-threatening slump in which he fell out of the top 250 in the World Golf Ranking.

Having been third in the previous two majors and second in this one, Westwood is starting to believe he is due for a break from fate.

"I think I just need to keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "One of these days the door is going to open for me. I keep knocking."