In a fitting end to a strange season on Tour, the two most famous men in the game — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson — both won something Sunday at East Lake Country Club in Atlanta. Mickelson, who took much of the season off to support his wife’s and his mother’s battles with breast cancer, found his rhythm again, shooting a final-round 65 to win the Tour Championship, besting runner-up Woods at six-under.
However, Woods didn’t go home empty-handed, not hardly. His second place finish was good enough to win the FedEx Cup, golf’s season-ending playoff which comes with a $10 million payout.
“It feels great to have won,” Mickelson said. “It’s been frustrating as far as the last few months, but I look at it as a fortunate year because [wife] Amy and my mom are going to be great.”
Mickelson’s otherworldly round was only enough to vault him into second place in the FedEx Cup standings, as Woods had a win and a runner-up finish in two of the previous three playoff events. The playoff format ensured that the Top 5 entering the playoffs would win the FedEx Cup with a win at East Lake — Mickelson started the tournament in 14th place, which meant that Woods’s 69 was enough to seal the FedEx Cup the year he came back from major reconstructive knee surgery.
“The whole idea [of the FedEx Cup] is to be consistent, and this year I’ve played well and been very consistent,” said Woods, who won six times on Tour in 2009. “Wish I could have won a major, but hopefully next year I will put it together at the right time.”
The other closest contenders for the FedEx Cup — Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk — finished 3-under and 2-under, respectively. Stricker said the FedEx Cup and its accompanying millions added intensity to the Tour Championship.
“You know, it was on my mind, but it was in a good way. I was very excited. I was very aggressive with my swing,” Stricker said. “There was so much riding on the line.”
Stricker also made light of the complicated FedEx Cup point system, which many players — including Woods — said they didn’t understand.
“I knew I needed to finish solo second when I got out the calculator this morning and tried to figure it out,” Stricker said.
Kenny Perry, who started the day leading the tournament by two strokes, finished tied for fourth after a disappointing 74 on Sunday.
Woods and Mickelson will next play again — on the same team — at the Presidents Cup international tournament in San Francisco on Oct. 9.