ATLANTA — He wasn't at his eye-popping best on Sunday, but Tiger Woods was plenty good enough to win both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
Woods shot a final-round 66 to win by eight shots and claim the $1.26 million first prize at East Lake and the $10 million in deferred compensation for winning the inaugural FedEx Cup. It was his seventh victory of 2007 and the 61st of his career, moving him one behind Arnold Palmer and three behind Ben Hogan. Woods will almost certainly win the Vardon Trophy for low scoring average and finishes the season atop the money list at just under $11 million.
"Winning this week is pretty special," Woods said Sunday evening. "Winning the FedEx Cup is one thing, but I think as a player you always want to win the Tour Championship. There's history involved, and the players who have won it, these are basically the 30 hottest players for this year, and you know you're going to have your hands full coming into this week."
Steve Stricker, who played with Woods on Thursday and Friday, said: "He's just tough. Just when you think he's going to make a bogey, he holes it out of the bunker or makes a 30- or 40-footer."
Sunday's sacrificial lamb was Mark Calcavecchia, who tied Zach Johnson for second place at 15 under. Calcavecchia birdied the par-4 first hole to close the gap to two shots but would get no closer to his playing partner and pal Woods. Both bogeyed the par-3 second hole, and all the suspense was gone after Woods nearly aced the watery, par-3 sixth and made birdie.
The four-week FedEx Cup race was over before the final round began. None of the four players who had a realistic chance to catch Woods were in contention to win at East Lake, so the action Sunday came down to a battle for second. Stricker shot a three-under 67 to finish six under for the tournament and hold off Phil Mickelson (five under) for the second spot in the FedEx Cup. Stricker won $3 million in deferred prize money.
"Tiger taking that week off allowed me to get up in there [in first place after winning the Barclays]," Stricker said. "Too bad he didn't take another one off, really."
The Tour Championship was supposed to be the crown jewel of the FedEx Cup, but it seemed hexed from the beginning. Perhaps it was the Halloween gods, who didn't appreciate the pile of expertly carved pumpkins placed just outside the East Lake clubhouse a month and a half before October 31.
First came trouble with the greens, which suffered heat damage and early in the week looked like they were on loan from an over-crowded muni.
Then came the weather, a rain storm that wasn't in the forecast led to a three-hour delay Thursday afternoon. Players could have been off the course had the PGA Tour moved the tee times up.
More than anything, the tournament suffered from a lack of competition. Almost without fail, every player with a mathematical chance to overtake Woods in the FedEx Cup played terribly. In fact, Woods had enough points to win golf's first playoff series even before the Tour Championship.
"Yeah, I wish Phil or I could've been up there and challenged Tiger a little more," Stricker said, speaking for many.
He may as well have been in the second flight while paired with Woods on Thursday and Friday. While Woods was shooting 64-63, Stricker was toddling along at 69-67, nowhere near good enough on a course made defenseless by torrential rain and ultra-receptive greens.
Mickelson came out similarly flat. He began the tournament by going three over for his first five holes while Woods was going three under through three, the equivalent of spotting Roger Federer the first set. Mickelson fought back for a two-under 68 in the first round and shot 66 in the second, but he was too far back to contend even if he played well on the weekend. (He didn't.)
"It was a very inconsistent year," he said after shooting a one-over 71 on Sunday. "It's something I'm going to try to address in the off-season."
Rory Sabbatini, who played with Mickelson on Sunday as well as the first two days of the tournament, shot 68 to finish at a pedestrian nine under.
K.J. Choi, the fifth player who had a chance to win the FedEx Cup with a Tour Championship victory, shot 69 and finished four under for the tournament.
They may have run out of gas at the end of a long stretch of tournaments, or they may have tried to do too much. In the end, there was little choice but to consider this week yet another referendum on Tiger's greatness.
"He drove it good for the most part and got it on the greens, and he's putting incredibly," Stricker said. "I've never seen anybody putt as good as he does. And when he does hit a foul ball, he's so strong out of the rough that he can muscle it up on the green.
"You know, hats off to him," Stricker continued. "He's a great player."