Woods produces old magic at 17th hole, but falls short of win

Tiger Woods' play in the final round of the Valspar Championship Sunday in Palm Harbor produced the highest-rated non-major PGA Tour broadcast in almost five years, NBC announced Monday.

Tiger Woods did not pick up the win on this weekend, but the PGA Tour and the fans should feel like they had a huge victory.

Woods, the 14-time major champion playing just his fourth Tour event since spinal fusion surgery last April, showed he's a contender again as he fired a one-under-par 70 to share second on nine-under 275 - one stroke behind Casey who surged to his second US PGA Tour title with a 65 for 274.

Patrick Reed was tied for the lead and appeared headed for a playoff at worst until his approach to the 18th came back down the slope, and his 45-foot birdie putt was so weak that it rolled all the way back to his feet.

That left Woods as the only man who could catch the leader, but the former world number one was only able to make par at the end of a largely frustrating round featuring just two birdies and a solitary bogey.

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Thousands lined the fairway at every hole Woods played and his galleries dwarfed those for the rest of the field with attendance at a tournament that previous year drew 112,000 soaring to more than 150,000 for his first appearance.

"I think I've gotten a little better than what I was a couple of weeks ago", Woods said.

Casey had four birdies and a bogey on his front nine, then seized control with three birdies on the trot at 11, 12 and 13 that moved him to 10-under.

The old-time roar faded, though, and his bid to force eventual victor Paul Casey to extra holes also petered out when his long birdie putt stopped a couple of feet short at the par-four 18th. He finished in a tie for second with Woods. "I've been here before a few times", the 42-year-old said when asked if he had felt any nerves. It took a great round by Casey to capture his second win on the PGA Tour. That was the best-rated Round 3 of a PGA Tour event on any broadcast network since 2006, and the best rating for the Valspar tournament ever.

  • Lawrence Cooper