Tiger Tops Phil Regains No 1 Spot


2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- Tiger Woods returned to the No. 1 ranking in the world as he prevailed Sunday in the much-anticipated duel between himself and Phil Mickelson.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods earned his 42nd career PGA Tour win on Sunday.
Woods birdied the 17th hole Sunday to shoot a 6-under 66 and win the Ford Championship at Doral. He finished at 24-under-par 264, good for a one-shot win over Mickelson, who shot a final-round 69.
Woods collected his second win of 2005. He also captured the Buick Invitational and the 29-year-old now has 42 victories on the PGA Tour. Woods' win propelled him back into the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
'What a day. We both played really good golf,' said Woods, who pocketed $990,000 for the win. 'So far, I've gotten two wins this year, which is a nice start. The rankings will take care of itself with wins.'
For Mickelson, this stopped many streaks. The reigning Masters champion held at least a piece of the lead after his last 10 stroke-play rounds, having won his last two stroke-play starts, the FBR Open in Phoenix and the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
'I'm just a little ticked at myself for not getting it done today,' Mickelson admitted. 'I loved playing head-to-head against Tiger at his best. It was great fun. The result sucks.'
This was the first time the two were in the final group on Sunday since the 2003 Buick Invitational. Woods blew away the field en route to that win, but the story was different in 2000 at the Tour Championship. Mickelson became the second player ever to come from behind and defeat Woods when Woods had at least a piece of the 54-hole lead.
The pair, never the closest of friends, teamed together to an 0-2 record at last year's Ryder Cup and this was the match-up golf fans wanted to see.
The duo was tied after both made uncharacteristic bogeys at the short, par-4 16th. Both were in the fairway at 17, but Mickelson's 9-iron approach sailed 40 feet left of the flag. Woods knocked his second 28 feet short of the hole.
Mickelson hit a poor putt that came up 3 feet short. Woods poured his putt into the center of the cup, giving him a one-shot lead as Mickelson converted his par save.
At the famed 'Blue Monster,' the most difficult hole statistically on the PGA Tour last year, both players found the fairway off the tee. Woods hit a suspect 7-iron 40 feet right of the hole on the fringe, but Mickelson's second went long, stopping 25 feet from the hole on the back fringe.
Woods ran his birdie putt 3 feet past the cup, opening the door for Mickelson. The lefthander elected to chip and the ball caught the right edge of the hole before rolling a foot by. Woods sank his par putt to ensure the victory.
'From where I was looking, Phil's chip, that thing was center-cut,' admitted Woods. 'Eighteen is no piece of cake even with a one-shot lead. Anything can happen on that hole. I'm happy.'
Vijay Singh, who held the top ranking since triumphing over Woods at the Deutsche Bank Championship last Labor Day, did what he could to try to hold on to No. 1. He fired a 66 and tied for third place with Zach Johnson, who posted a 5-under 67. The duo came in at 19-under-par 269.
David Toms, who cruised to victory last week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, shot a 67 on Sunday and finished alone in fifth place at minus-17.
As well as these three golfers played on Sunday, the galleries at Doral and fans watching on television were only interested in Woods and Mickelson.
They both birdied the first hole, then Woods closed the gap to one with a birdie at five. Both players birdied the par-5 eighth, then Woods tied Mickelson atop the leaderboard with a short birdie putt at the par-5 10th.
Woods hit one of the most spectacular shots of the tournament on the par-5 12th. He reached the green in two from 293 yards out, coming up 30 feet short of the flag. Mickelson missed the fairway left and laid up with his second. His third came to rest 15 feet from the hole. Woods converted his eagle putt and Mickelson's birdie try stayed above ground, giving Woods a two-shot edge.
But Mickelson would not go away quietly. He sank a 7-foot birdie putt at the 13th and made it two in a row with a 5-footer at No. 14. Mickelson caught Woods with four holes to play.
The par-4 16th was a swing hole in Saturday's third round. Woods hit a tremendous drive that left him 30 feet for eagle. He two-putted for birdie, but the drive itself, a 330-yarder with 320 of it in the air, led most to think he would be able to post at least a birdie on Sunday.
Mickelson went first and fell into a fairway bunker, leaving him a good angle at the flag, but an awkward length. Woods missed the green short and right at 16 in the rough. Mickelson's second sailed over the green, but Woods dumped his second in a bunker short of the putting surface.
Woods blasted out to 15 feet, while Mickelson chipped 5 feet past the stick. Woods' par putt was left all the way, but Mickelson blew his chance at the lead when his putt skirted the left edge.
Then Woods birdied 17 and held on for the win. In the process, Woods broke the tournament record by a stroke. Greg Norman established the old mark of 265 in 1993 and it was later equaled by Jim Furyk in 2000.
'It was electric, there's no doubt about it,' said Woods. 'The thing that made it special today is that we both played well. It was a quality day of golf.'
Craig Parry, the 2004 champion, carded a 2-under 70 and tied for sixth with two-time Masters winner, Jose Maria Olazabal, who shot a 69 on Sunday. The duo finished at 16-under-par 272.
A pair of former U.S. Open champions, Retief Goosen (64) and Jim Furyk (70), tied for eighth place at 15-under-par 273. Angel Cabrera (67) and Dudley Hart 69) shared 10th at minus-14.
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