Phil, Tiger share spotlight
ATLANTA — Phil Mickelson had the smaller check and felt like the biggest winner. Tiger Woods was congratulated after he finished second in the Tour Championship.
Yesterday was the eighth time that golf's two biggest stars finished 1-2 in a tournament.
Never have they shared the spotlight, each going home with a trophy that was meaningful in its own way.
Mickelson capped off a tumultuous summer at home with a spectacular rally at East Lake, closing with a 5-under 65 to go from four shots behind to a three-shot victory, his first since his wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring.
Woods made two late birdies, not enough to put any heat on Mickelson, but to secure the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. It finished a season in which he won six times and was no worse than second in nine of his 17 tournaments.
"I like the way today went," Mickelson said. "I was two back of him, I beat him by three. He gets the $10 million check, and I get $1 million. I've got no problem with that. I just love holding this finally."
Mickelson motioned toward the crystal trophy of the Tour Championship, which has not belonged to him since he won in 2000 at East Lake by again rallying in the final round to beat Woods.
Mickelson finished at 9-under 271 and earned $1.35 million. He also collected $3 million for being second in the FedEx Cup. It was his third victory of the year, the 37th of his career and it pushed him back to No. 2 in the world ranking.
"It means a lot to finish the year off on such a good note," Mickelson said. "We've been through a lot, and I'm very proud of my wife and my mom on the fight that they've been through. We're in good shape. Although day-to-day is tough, and it's not easy for them, we're fortunate that our long-term outlook is good."
Woods stood on the 18th green with his biggest rival, perturbed by his inability to make putts inside 20 feet, trying to remind himself that he had a remarkable season coming off major knee surgery.
"I'm sure I would probably be more happy tomorrow than I am right now, because you're in the moment trying to win this event," Woods said. "I'm trying to win a golf tournament. I'm trying to beat Phil, he's trying to beat me ... we're all there, and it was just a great leaderboard."
It was a great finish to a FedEx Cup that was compelling to the very end.
Three other players had a chance to capture the big prize along the back nine at East Lake.
• Kenny Perry had a two-shot lead to start the final round and doubled it after two holes, only to implode with poor tee shots, bad chips and missed putts that led to a 74.
• As it became clear Mickelson was headed toward victory, Steve Stricker only needed to finish ahead of Woods. He was in position until he found mud on his ball in the 16th fairway, sailed the green and made consecutive bogeys to shoot 69.
"I knew it was close, put it that way," Stricker said of the FedEx Cup race. "Whatever. I played my hardest."
• Sean O'Hair stayed within range of Mickelson until he took a bogey on the 17th hole and wound up with a 69, alone in third.
"I was feeling the nerves a little bit out there, which was great to feel," O'Hair said. "I just didn't get it done."
Mickelson seized control with a 31 on the front nine, and his lone birdie on the back came from a chip-in out of a nasty lie behind the 16th green that essentially secured his victory.
LPGA Tour: Sophie Gustafson won on the LPGA Tour for the first time in six years, cruising to a four-stroke win over top-ranked Lorena Ochoa in the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge at Danville, Calif. Gufstason shot a 4-under 68 at Blackhawk Country Club and finished at 20-under 268 to win her first LPGA event since the 2003 Samsung World Championship. Ochoa shot a 72.
Champions Tour: Tom Pernice Jr. became the 15th player to win in his Champions Tour debut, holing a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke win over Nick Price and David Frost in the SAS Championship at Cary, N.C. Pernice, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 13-under 203 on the Prestonwood Country Club course. Frost shot a 67, and Price had a 68.
Nationwide Tour: Garrett Willis won the WNB Golf Classic to lock up a spot next year on the PGA Tour, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory at Midland, Texas. Willis finished at 20-under 268. He earned $94,500 to jump from 19th to sixth on the money list with $261,506, with the final top 25 earning 2010 PGA Tour cards.
PGA European: Rory McIlroy beat Henrik Stenson 1-up and Britain and Ireland took four of 10 singles points to beat Continental Europe, 16 1/2-11 1/2, for its fifth straight victory in the Vivendi Trophy at Saint-Nom-La-Breteche, France.