Phil Mickelson’s final-round 74 at TPC Sawgrass was his first over-par card since Friday at the Shell Houston Open in early April and ultimately denied Lefty the top spot in the World Golf Ranking.
For Mickelson to ascend to No. 1 he had to win The Players and Tiger Woods had to finish no better than fifth place. Before Mickelson teed off on Sunday Woods withdrew with a neck ailment to take care of the back end of that mathematical two-step but Lefty struggled early with three bogeys in his first six holes and never recovered.
“I got off to a poor start,” said Mickelson, who closed with a 74 and tied for 17th. “If you can make a couple birdies early on, and there's some early birdie holes, if I could have gotten a little more momentum for the round and maybe shot something in the 60s I could have made up some ground.”
Even with Woods’ WD Mickelson did little to close the gap in the World Ranking, trimming the lead by two-tenths of a point from 1.51 to 1.31.
Mickelson, who dismissed the importance of overtaking Woods last week, may have the upper hand, however. He said he plans to play Colonial and maybe the Memorial before the U.S. Open while Woods’ schedule remains in doubt following his withdrawal.
This time, the math, if not time, seems to be on Lefty’s side.