Tom Kite had hoped to become the oldest winner in PGA Tour history, but he failed to hold on to his third-round lead yesterday at the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional Country Club.

Kite, 55, shot a 3-over-par 74 in the final round to finish 68-69-66-74 -- 277 (tied for 13). Although it was his best finish on the PGA Tour this year, Kite was frustrated with his performance when he came off the course.

"I'm very disappointed with the way I performed today because I went out there and didn't play the way I was playing all week," Kite said. "I've been playing smart golf, aggressive golf and putting very well. I was very tentative out there today and you don't win golf tournaments being tentative."

Had Kite -- who won this tournament in 1987 -- held onto his lead, he would have surpassed Sam Snead, who was 52 when he won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965. But it was not to be. Kite's putter betrayed him early. He needed three putts to close out No. 3, then he three-putted No. 10 as well -- for two of his five bogeys -- on his way to 31 putts for the round.

"I missed some putts early on, and you can't afford to miss them," said Kite, whose last PGA Tour win came 12 years ago at the Nissan Open.

Congressional in 2007?

If the proposed $25 million makeover of TPC at Avenel cannot be completed by the spring of 2007, Congressional Country Club likely will once again be asked to host Washington's annual PGA Tour event.

"Obviously, everyone would like to come back here," said Ben Brundred, chairman of the board of governors for the tournament and a longtime member and past president of Congressional.

The Booz Allen Classic was shifted to Congressional from TPC at Avenel this year because the tour had hoped to be in the process of renovating the Avenel golf course and clubhouse. Commissioner Tim Finchem said earlier in the week that work likely would not begin at least until the fall of 2006 and probably would not be finished in time for the 2007 tournament.

Steve Lesnik, CEO of KemperSports, which manages the tournament, said no one has yet approached Congressional about the 2007 tournament.

Congressional's members would have to approve the return of the tournament in 2007 by a majority vote. More than 80 percent of the members were in favor of hosting this year's event as well as the 2011 U.S. Open.

The club makes $900,000 in rent for the use of the club, as well as a percentage of the profit.

Mickelson Gambles

Phil Mickelson's tee shot on the par-5, 544-yard No. 6 landed in the gallery, left of the fairway behind a grove of trees. With 274 yards to the pin, he could have played his second shot conservatively and pitched to the fairway. Instead, he took out his 3-iron and went for the green.

To get there, he had a three-foot opening to put his ball through. The ball had to go under one tree and over another, then cut around. If he wasn't perfect, it could have been a disaster, especially given the body of water guarding the right side of the green.

Somehow, Mickelson made the shot. The ball traveled 265 yards, landed on the green and rolled 35 feet past the pin. The crowd roared its approval. He missed the eagle putt by three feet, but made the birdie to bring his round back to even.

"It was a shot that at the time I thought might catapult my round," Mickelson said. "It was a bit of a gamble, I guess, going through the trees and stuff. I was able to get on the green. Unfortunately, I didn't really take advantage of it later on in the round. Mickelson shot 3-over 74 in the final round.