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

Esther Moore
March 12, 2018

The birdie brought Woods within one shot of the eventual victor, Paul Casey, but Woods could not replicate the magic at the par-four 18th, where he missed a hard 40-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.

He couldn't repeat the feat at the 18th to force a playoff, however, another long birdie try coming up a couple of feet short.

Casey carded a final round of 65 on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort to set a clubhouse target of 10 under par, which American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed looked set to match before he bogeyed the final hole.

Former world number one Woods, playing his fourth US PGA Tour event since returning in January from spinal fusion surgery last April, fired a three-under-par 68 for a four-under total of 138. Today wasn't as sharp as I would have liked to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament.

"I loved it. I played great. I kept getting the half club, just one of those days I couldn't quite get the full club".

Tiger is in contention of a real, live, actual PGA Tour event and he's got as good as shot as ever to win his first tournament since 2013.

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Just after their rounds, Woods crossed paths with Casey outside the scorer's tent and congratulated the latter on his first win on the PGA Tour since 2009 and his first anywhere since 2014.

Reed joined Casey at the top of the leaderboard with a birdie on the 14th but made a mess of the last, his long-range putt failing to get over the ridge in the green and rolling back to his feet.

Woods will now turn his attention to the Arnold Palmer Invitational - a tournament he has won eight times - before heading to the Masters at Augusta amid significantly heightened expectations. "[On Saturday at Valspar], he putted a little bit off compared to what I saw at Honda, but he drove it way better and I don't see it going backwards from here". "A couple of putts [falling] here or there, and it would have been a different story". They're fortunate Tiger has played well enough to get one of the very last tee times, starting well within the TV coverage window. And surely the golf gods would look down with favour upon this demi-god, rising from his own personal and professional ashes, almost five years since last he won on the PGA Tour. But he got up and down for par from a bunker at 17, and when his ball moved slightly on the 18th green he stayed calm, consulted a rules official and finished out with a par.

Reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia enjoyed a good week as he prepares to defend his title early next month, the Spaniard finishing a shot further back at eight-under after matching Casey with a 65. Sunday is expected to bring the largest crowds, especially for those wanting to watch Woods.

Justin Rose, among six players who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round, had back-to-back bogeys on the back nine and never atoned for his mistakes. Wallace went for the green in two on the playoff hole, the 18th, needing only 20 feet for an eagle.

But in that time, much has changed in Casey's life as he explained.

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