Mickelson, left, winner of The Tour Championship and Tiger
Woods, winner of the FedEx Cup, pose with their trophies at
East Lake Golf Club in
ATLANTA - No matter how much they
tinker with the FedEx Cup, there's never going to be a system that
That said, it's hard to argue with
this photo op from the PGA Tour's season-ending moneyfest: Tiger
Woods and Phil Mickelson standing side-by-side on the 18th green at
East Lake Golf Club, each of them posing with a trophy of his own.
Woods won the FedEx Cup — and, oh
yeah, another $10 million for his overflowing bank account.
Mickelson won the Tour Championship to close an emotional
roller-coaster of a year with a flourish.
Golf's two biggest stars, each of
them a winner Sunday.
Just what PGA Tour commissioner Tim
Finchem had in mind when he came up with a playoff system to spice
things up after all the majors were done.
"Had I put myself in a position
to where we had the entire FedEx Cup on the line coming down the
stretch, that would have been even more exciting," Mickelson
said. "But I felt like the day turned out well."
Woods didn't win a major in a year
for the first time since 2004, but it's hard to complain about a
season with six wins and three runner-up finishes — all after
recovering from major knee surgery.
"To be as consistent as I have
been all year is something that I'm very proud of," Woods said.
"I certainly wouldn't have expected that."
Mickelson closed with a 5-under 65 to
go from four shots behind to a three-stroke victory, his first since
his wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring.
"It means a lot to finish the
year off on such a good note," he 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."
While Mickelson was pulling away in
the tournament, the chase was much tighter for the FedEx Cup and its
$10 million bonus. Three other players beyond the Big Two had a
legitimate shot at the big prize.
— Kenny Perry started with a
two-shot lead 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 a 69.
— Sean O'Hair stayed within range
of Mickelson until a bogey on the 17th hole and wound up with a 69,
alone in third.
"There was so much riding on the
line," Stricker said. "There might be some tweaking again.
Who knows? But I thought it provided a lot of excitement for the
fans and the players. All the players coming in here this week had a
legitimate chance at winning the FedEx Cup."
Indeed, this third incarnation of the
season-ending playoff was certainly more compelling than the first
two. Woods won easily in 2007, even while skipping one of the
playoff events. Last year, Vijay Singh merely had to show up for
four rounds at East Lake to ensure his title.
This time, there was more emphasis on
who played well late in the season, and the points system was
altered to give all 30 finalists at least a semblance of a chance
going into the Tour Championship.
"What is right? Every year
you're going to have a scenario that's going to jump out and you're
going to say, 'That just doesn't seem right,'" Stricker said.
"You've got to put something together like they did this year
that creates a lot of excitement like this did. With five guys
having a chance to win, it did do that."
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.
Woods, playing in the final group
with Perry, struggled most of the day with his putter, but two late
birdies helped him lock up the cup.
As he stood on the 18th green with
his biggest rival, perturbed by his inability to make putts inside
20 feet, Woods found it hard to consider himself a winner.
"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," he said. "I'm trying to
beat Phil, he's trying to beat me."
Mickelson seized control with a 31 on
the front nine. His lone birdie on the back came from a chip-in out
of a nasty lie behind the 16th green that essentially secured his
Lefty's only hope for the FedEx Cup
was for Woods to finish eighth or worse, a slight possibility until
Woods made his first birdie of the final round with two putts at the
par-5 15th. He followed with a 35-foot birdie on the 16th — his
first one-putt birdie in 24 holes, which brought out his first fist
pump of the day.
"I just needed to push, needed a
run or two or three birdies to get me right back in the ball
game," Woods said. "Unfortunately, that run didn't happen
until 15. And that's a little late."
Still, Woods got the title — and
the prize — that mattered most to another of his rivals.
"I'd prefer the 10 million bucks
in my pocket," O'Hair said. "I think Tiger wins
The PGA Tour was a winner, too.
Just check out that picture from the