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Slimmer Tiger still on road to recovery

Fred Couples
Matthew Emmons/Getty Images
Fred Couples, the epitome of casual style, has worn Ashworth for years.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem saw Tiger Woods for the first time since his season-ending surgery, and reported Sunday that the No. 1-ranked golfer was his usual self, except for being about 10 pounds lighter and walking with a slight limp.

"He lost 12 or 13 pounds after surgery, gained a few back," Finchem said. "He looks kind of thin."

Woods and Finchem were at Congressional Country Club to speak with the members about the club hosting the AT&T National for six years after the 2012 U.S. Open. Results of the vote are not expected until later this month.

And did the commissioner tell Woods how much he missed him?

"No, I said we missed him - the collective enterprise," Finchem said with a grin. "You guys, tournaments, sponsors, the fans in Venezuela who watch us on TV. Everybody misses him."

Finchem said he had no indication when Woods might return, but little doubt how he will return.

"The doctors set a minimum of six months, so that's what I'm assuming," Finchem said. "And he seems fine. He seems his usual self. He was limping a little bit at Congressional, but he said he started his rehab and he was excited about that because he had been bored to death.

In my mind, it's only a question of when he starts coming back. And there's no doubt in my mind he'll be the same Tiger he's been," Finchem added.

APPLYING SPIN: Despite bogeying three of the final four holes to turn a one-shot lead into a withering two-stroke defeat, Phil Mickelson forced a smile and repeatedly said how well he thought he played in his final-round 70 at the Bridgestone.

In his first two statements about his round, he described six "good" shots in the final five holes, and said he hit three "great" shots at No. 14 and played the 16th hole "great."

Asked if he could take any positives out of his late slide, Mickelson said, "I played great, I really played well. I played great today. I felt like I should have shot 63 or 64, had countless birdie opportunities from 6 to 15 feet and then I make three bogeys on the last four holes and turn a 64 into a 70.

"So I feel like I'm playing well, I just need to get that final piece of scoring down."

RYDER CUP UPDATE: Steve Stricker fell out of contention with a 75 in the third round of the Bridgestone Invitational and then closed with a 70 to tie for 43rd - but he actually made up ground in the Ryder Cup race for Americans.

Stricker is still No. 8 in the standings - the top eight are automatic selections - and only 24 points behind Boo Weekley in the rankings, which end next week with the PGA Championship.

There was some jumbling right behind them, although Woody Austin remained in ninth place about 180 points back. That translates to roughly $90,000 in earnings he must make at Oakland Hills.

As for the reshuffling?

Hunter Mahan birdied his last two holes for a 68 to tie for 10th in Akron, moving up one spot to No. 10 in the rankings. D.J. Trahan tied for eighth at Firestone and moved up one spot to No. 11. Rocco Mediate tied for 52nd and fell two positions to No. 12. They are followed by Sean O'Hair and Zach Johnson (who switched spots at Nos. 13 and 14) and Brandt Snedeker.

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