Valspar Championship: Tiger Woods drains 44-foot birdie, finishes second

Tiger Woods plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course

Masters champion Sergio Garcia matched Casey's joint-low round-of-the-day to end the week in fourth, with Justin Rose slipping down the leaderboard on the back nine to finish tied-fifth.

Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents from the Valspar Championship.

He actually wasn't that good on Sunday, shooting 70 after starting the tournament with rounds of 70-68-67. "That was incredible", Casey said.

"I'm sure he was disappointed he didn't get the victory".

No one caught him, giving him his second PGA Tour title and his first since the Houston Open in 2009.

Casey rallied from five shots behind.

Tiger Woods narrowly missed lifting his first trophy since 2013 at the Valspar Championship, losing to Paul Casey by just one stroke.

"It's the only time he's congratulated me", Casey said. "Normally, it's the other way around".

Tiger, can you put into words maybe some of the emotion and adrenaline today for being back with a chance to win on a Sunday and just what was that like for you even though you weren't as sharp?

And: "I had a chance today". "I keep getting just a little bit better and a little bit sharper". I've won my share of events here and overseas and so I like to be one back or near the lead. "But I'm glad it's this way". It was the closest Woods has come to winning in almost five years and finished in a tie for second after a closing 70.

On the penultimate green, Tiger was eight-under and facing a testing, right to left, downhill, 40-foot birdie putt.

On Thursday he claimed his first lead at a PGA Tour event since August 22, 2015.

Tiger Woods plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round
Tiger Woods plays his shot from the fifth tee during the final round

"It feels good to be up here", Woods said. "A couple putts here and there would have been a different story".

Reed chose to chip the next shot, and he putted in for bogey. He was in position to be a part of the playoff until a disastrous birdie putt on 18.

Woods, meanwhile, kept his eye on the long game as he prepares for the April 5-8 Masters at Augusta National.

Paul Casey took his first PGA Tour win since 2011. And with a PC win, we are more than happy at GolfPunk Towers.

Reed drew level with Casey after a birdie on 14 but let slip the opportunity to tie his English rival in bogeying the last. He thought he flushed it. He twirled his club when the ball was in the air.

A birdie at the last would have forced a playoff but left himself too far back after hitting an iron off the tee and failed to convert a 39-footer for another miracle.

"There has been a lot [of talk about coming close but not winning]", he said.

Reed bogeyed the 18th after making an unwise play on the finishing green, opting to use a putter rather than a wedge and then seeing his initial putt fail to reach the cup and roll back to his feet.

Rory McIlroy, who missed the cut at Valspar: "I saw this three months ago [when they played together at Thanksgiving]". From 185 yards, his 7-iron came up some 40 feet short, and his birdie putt to force a playoff was 2 feet short. He is an eight-time victor at Bay Hill, and the euphoria over his return is sure to reach even higher decibels.

"But Nutta always looked after me and still does to this day and always welcome and watch me at Wentworth, Mary would always tag along and drove up to Scotland to see my very first victory".

"I believe my game is progressing", he said. I hit a good dying pace. He shot 77 and tied for 16th.

But Woods could never spark his round and gain momentum, failing to drain any big putts until the one on 17. Coverage of his early round will be on Golf Channel, while the conclusion will shift to NBC for a finish right around 6 p.m. ET.

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