NORTON, Mass.(AP) Tiger Woods stood outside the scorer’s trailer, raising his voice to be heard over the cheering fans.
They were screaming for Phil Mickelson.
Woods shot a 4-under 67 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, challenging his left-handed rival down the stretch but failing to make enough putts to repeat last year’s comeback victory. Woods tied for second with third-round leaders Brett Wetterich and Arron Oberholser, two strokes behind Mickelson.
“The way I was able to answer with a couple birdies when Tiger was making his charge – it felt pretty good,” Mickelson said. “As we all know, he finishes better than anybody else. He certainly tried to do that today. I was able to hold him off.”
Mickelson repeatedly commended Woods as “the best player in the world”; the lefty will have to console himself with the lead in the PGA Tour Playoff standings. The second-place finish left Woods, who sat out the FedEx opener, in third behind Mickelson and The Barclays winner Steve Stricker.
Woods shot 72 in the first round at TPC Boston before playing himself back into contention Saturday with a 64. With a 67 on Sunday, he was near the top of the leaderboard, paired with Mickelson and one group behind the leaders.
“All I know is, we had to go catch Brett. … Then Phil got off to a great start, and we all had to go get him,” said Woods, who overcame a three-stroke deficit against Vijay Singh to win last year. “Unfortunately, I just didn’t make enough putts to really push him.”
In all, Woods missed 11 putts from inside 10 feet over the weekend – four of them from inside 7 feet. He three-putted three times. In the final round, he made just one putt from outside of 13 feet.
“It’s very frustrating,” Woods said. “That many three-putts, and I’m still right there, which means I’m hitting the ball well. I just need to clean up my greens for next week.”
Mickelson made four birdies on the front nine and stood five strokes ahead of Woods – and three over Oberholser – on the 12th tee. But while Mickelson hit his second shot into a hazard and made double bogey on No. 12, Woods missed makable putts on three straight holes – Nos. 11-13 – and failed to gain more ground.
“He made a mistake there,” said Woods, who missed from 15 feet on the 12th. “I felt that I should have – if I could have made that putt, I could have gotten a big chunk back.”
Woods cut it to two strokes with a birdie on the 14th, and his last charge came on the 161-yard, par-3 16th, when he bounced his tee shot to the back of the green and rolled it in just 10 feet from the pin. But then Mickelson went straight at the flag, and left just 6 feet for birdie.
Woods sank his putt to get within one stroke- but just for a matter of seconds. Mickelson also made birdie to move to 15 under and restore the two-stroke lead.
After that, Woods probably needed Mickelson to help out. But Lefty wouldn’t comply.
They both parred No. 17, with Woods missing a 10-foot birdie putt that would have put him within one stroke. On the par-5 18th, the gallery cheered Mickelson’s bravado when he pulled out a fairway wood for his second shot; he was going for the green.
Mickelson went over the target, landing in the 4-inch rough on a downhill slope behind the green. Woods left himself 33 feet for eagle.
But Mickelson chipped within 5 feet of the hole – an easy birdie.
“To be able to stand up on 16 after he knocked it close and follow it with a birdie of my own, knock it inside of him and finish with a couple birdies of my own, it feels terrific,” said Mickelson, who improved to 3-2-1 against Woods in heads-up, final-round play.
“Now the next step is to try to hopefully go head-to-head in a major. We don’t get paired very often in majors, and hopefully next year we’ll have a chance to do that.”