Monday, September 28, 2009
Phil Mickelson capped off a tumultuous summer at home with a spectacular rally Sunday to win the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Tiger Woods finished another big year by winning the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
In a riveting conclusion to golf's regular season, its two biggest stars shared the stage at East Lake with trophies that were meaningful in vastly different ways.
Mickelson seized control with a 31 on the front nine and closed with a 5-under-par 65 for a three-shot victory, his first since his wife and his mother had breast cancer diagnosed in the spring. Both have a positive outlook in the recovery, although it has been an emotional burden for Lefty over the last three months.
Woods once again struggled playing in the final pairing. He didn't make a birdie until the 15th hole, and by then it was too late to catch Mickelson. Woods closed with an even-par 70 to finish alone in second. Even so, he received quite a consolation prize -- a FedEx Cup title that rewarded him for a remarkable year in which he came back from major knee surgery.
Mickelson, who returned to No. 2 in the world with his victory, finished at 9-under 271. He earned a $3 million bonus, on top of the $1.35 million for winning the Tour Championship.
"Let me see if I get this straight," Mickelson said. "I shot 65 and he shot , and he gets a check for $10 million. . . . No, I'm just kidding. I didn't play well in the first three events to give myself a chance."
Mickelson, who played the final 20 holes of the Tour Championship without a bogey, closed out the decade with bookend victories at East Lake. He also won the Tour Championship in 2000 when he rallied to beat Woods in the final round.
Woods, meanwhile, went a stretch of 24 holes without a one-putt birdie until he knocked one in from 35 feet on the 16th. "Phil played well. He did the things he needed to do this week," Woods said. "Unfortunately, I didn't putt well and consequently, I didn't push him. Phil ran off and got away from us."
-- CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Pernice Jr. became the 15th player to win in his Champions Tour debut, holing a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Nick Price and David Frost in the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C. Pernice closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 13-under 203 on the Prestonwood Country Club course.
-- LPGA TOUR: Sophie Gustafson is finally an LPGA Tour winner again, cruising to a four-stroke victory over top-ranked Lorena Ochoa in the CVS LPGA Challenge in Danville, Calif. Gustafson shot a 4-under 68 at Blackhawk Country Club and finished at 20-under 268 to win her first title since the 2003 Samsung World Championship. She takes home the $165,000 winning purse for her fifth career tour victory.