Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sports | By Brandy Patterson

The 'Tiger Effect' on full display as Woods transforms PGA Tour

The 'Tiger Effect' on full display as Woods transforms PGA Tour

That final round of one-under 70, with birdies on the 1st and 17th and a bogey on four, left the 42-year-old American in a share of second place on a nine-under total of 275, alongside compatriot Patrick Reed who bogeyed 18 to drop out of a share of the lead.

With most people expecting or wanting Woods to complete a fairytale first win since 2013, Casey quietly went about his business.

"Unfortunately I just didn't quite feel as sharp as I needed to with my irons, played a little conservative because of it", Woods told reporters at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

"It was one of those days where I just kept getting the half-club, just one of those days where I couldn't quite get the full-club", Tiger said after the 18th. That's something special. I actually thought he was going to win today before the round started. "I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament". It's fantastic, obviously, to see Tiger playing golf and here at Valspar, too, the difference he makes to the Tour is huge. After his birdie on the first hole, he played the next 15 holes at one over par with no birdies.

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Corey Conners held the 54-hole lead, but fell off the pace early, with bogeys on two of his first three holes.

And after speaking of his sadness in returning home to England, Casey was thrilled to have denied Woods in what would have been first success in almost five years. Combine an already tough course with the "Snake Pit" closers, and the pressure of having a lead in a big-time tournament, and you find the door open for a comeback more often than you'd think. "A couple of putts [falling] here or there, and it would have been a different story". Both McDowell and Lowry - as well as Woods - head on to this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

"The guy (Woods) has got more victories than all of us put together", a relieved Casey said. It's the thing that's been holding me back and the frustrating thing for a couple of years.

Woods, meanwhile, was left to rue a string of missed opportunities.

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Missing, that is, until the par-3 17th, where Woods perfectly read and then executed a 44-foot birdie putt, his ball curling deliciously into the centre of the cup as the gallery went berserk. If he's going to win a tournament before The Masters next month, it stands to reason this is his best shot.

Tiger Woods was one birdie short. Sun-ju Ahn shot 4-under 68 and won on the first playoff hole against Ai Suzuki (65) in the Yokohama Tire PRGR Ladies Cup on the Japan LPGA.

But the long game, the long view, that was so heartening as Woods builds on the performance gains he's made in recent weeks.

Casey has finished in the top six in the Masters in each of the last three years and added: "I'm excited, and not only for my game but the fact that Tiger's playing great". I hit some good shots. I can't exactly pinpoint it, but something always just rubbed me the wrong way.

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