Sports Shorts: Tiger close, but Casey wins Valspar

Tiger Woods reacts after sinking a birdie putt during his second round

Tiger Woods reacts after sinking a birdie putt during his second round

It was the Tiger Woods of old at the Valspar Championship over the weekend, and an incredible birdie putt got him agonisingly close to his first title in five years.

Woods, a 14-time major victor, needed a birdie on the final hole, but could only manage par to finish nine under.

But the real story is the fact that Tiger Woods is properly back, as he shot a 68 to finish just one shot behind Casey to T2 with Patrick Reed.

That exact scenario unfolded August 23, 2015 - 932 days ago - at the Wyndham Championship, when Woods last gave himself a realistic chance to win for the 80 time on the PGA Tour.

"It didn't feel very good", Woods said after the hole, according to the Golf Channel.

Casey has won 13 times on the European Tour but his sole previous success on the PGA Tour came in the Houston Open in 2009 and he let slip a two-shot lead after 54 holes in the Tour Championship last September. At the Valspar, Woods played a series of deft pitch shots, somehow only holing out once and finishing the week fifth in strokes gained-around the green.

"I'm a fan of golf and to pip him is very special".

"I was very thankful to make that putt at 17", he said afterwards.

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Conners' coach, Derek Ingram, says the lessons learned this week will only make the rookie more comfortable with the PGA Tour life.

He got his stiffest challenge from Tolles, who was bogey-free before he three-putted the tough par-3 17th. Mullinax's previous best showing in a PGA Tour tournament came at last year's U.S. Open, where he finished tied for ninth. You can even enter tournaments when you're finally ready, and play lousy in some, and well in others, leaving behind an incomplete picture of where your game stands. We'll see him in action again next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. "There's so many guys (who) played their way back up into this tournament", Woods said.

Woods hasn't been here on a Sunday in several years, but, fused spine and all, he appears to have picked up right where he left off.

The Fijian closed with a 5-under 66 for a three-day total of 11-under 202 at Newport Beach Country Club. It will be good for me to go back and play there, I'm really looking forward to it'. The unflappable nature and silky smooth swing he showed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday gave way to an understandable case of the jitters on Sunday. "That's why I thought Tiger was going to win today, because he's probably watched Phil win, and figured I want to win". He laid well back off the 18th tee and hit his approach from 185 yards to just inside 40 feet.

Woods moved into a share of the lead with an opening-hole birdie and Rose followed suit to also get to nine under, as overnight leader Corey Conners bogeyed the par-five.

Tiger at Valspar wasn't just a big deal in Tampa Bay.

Spain's Sergio Garcia enjoyed an excellent final round of 65 and the defending Masters champion will take great confidence from his fourth place finish at Innisbrook.

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