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Notes Putting Derails Tiger

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- There was magic surrounding Tiger Woods on a Sunday in a big tournament. This time, though, it had little to do with him.
While his playing partner, Padraig Harrington, finished with a 30 to tie the back-nine record in the final round of The Players Championship, Woods simply played out the string, his attempt at a comeback derailed early in the day.
'It's frustrating in the sense that I wasn't really ever able to get it going,' Woods said.
The world's top player had a 1-over 73 and finished at 3 under, tied for 16th place. In all, it was better than projections after the first day, when a round of 75 left the golf world wondering if he would even make the cut. But Woods acknowledged that, with just a week to go until the Masters, his game hasn't yet rounded into perfect form.
'I'm pleased that things I'm working on are starting to come together,' Woods said. 'It's starting to show signs, but I need to replicate it more often.'
He felt his chances were hurt when he hit his second shot into a bunker on the par-5 second, and finished with bogey.
'I just could not afford to do something like that,' he said.
Woods played with a sore leg, a result of bending over awkwardly to pick up a tee on the practice range earlier in the week. He would not use the injury as an excuse.
'My leg is sore, there's no doubt about that,' he said. 'But you just go ahead and keep playing.'
Ian Poulter's silly mistake left his friend feeling all wet.
Facing a difficult putt on the fourth green, Poulter angrily walked up to his ball and bent down to hurriedly snatch it away. But instead of grabbing the ball, he accidentally whacked it with his hand ... and watched it roll right into the lake that protects the left side of the green.
Facing the possibility of a two-stroke penalty for losing his ball, Poulter signaled to his personal trainer, Kam Bhabra, who was watching from the gallery. Bhabra shed his shorts and waded into the water in his skivvies, bending down to find the ball and tossing it back to Poulter.
'I knew what he was going to ask me to do, so I just went,' Bhabra said after the round, wearing a fresh set of dry clothes.
Poulter saved par on the hole, en route to a 74. The two strokes he saved earned him about an extra $20,000. He admitted to being a little red-faced about one of the oddest incidents in the history of the tournament, and said he was grateful to have a friend like Bharba.
'The guy would do anything for me,' Poulter said. 'He will be rewarded very nicely.'
At 50, Jay Haas feels he's playing some of the best golf of his life. He certainly played some of the best golf of the day Sunday, shooting 66 to tie Harrington for the low round.
'If I play like I did today, I can compete anywhere,' Haas said.
His next test will be the Masters, where he'll make his second straight appearance after missing for two straight years.
'I'm just happy to be going there again,' Haas said. 'Hopefully, it won't be my last trip.'
It was much less than the win he got here last year, but Davis Love thought sticking around for the weekend was a minor victory in itself.
Love got off to a bad start, shooting 77 in the first round with a sore back. His back got better and he wound up at even-par, tied for 33rd, after a closing-round 73.
Love said once he felt defending his title was out of reach, he started thinking about the Masters, and taking advantage of the lightning-fast greens on the Stadium Course to help him prepare.
'You don't want to go to Augusta not making the cut here and not going to Atlanta' for the BellSouth Classic next week, he said. 'I wanted to build a little confidence and staying here for the weekend helped me do that.'
This wasn't a major, but it was close.
Phil Mickelson wasn't a winner, but he came close.
It was a familiar refrain for Lefty at The Players Championship. He finished tied for third and can keep golf's so-called fifth major - along with the other four - on the list of championships he's never won.
Mickelson shot 71 to finish at 8 under.
'I played well, I shot 1-under par on a tough golf course, but I didn't take advantage of a few opportunities I had to get it going,' he said.
Mickelson said he was playing more conservatively than normal this week out of necessity because the course was so tough. That strategy helped him to the leaderboard through three rounds.
But he never got on a roll Sunday, and when he missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-5 16th - a hole he really needed to eagle - his chances were finished. Nonetheless, this was Mickelson's best finish here in 11 tries.
'I think the big thing for me this week was playing four solid rounds and minimizing my mistakes,' he said. 'That certainly helped me get in contention and tie for third.'
DIVOTS:@ Vijay Singh made double bogey on the 18th to fall out of top 10. He finished tied for 13th. ... Ernie Els shot 78 to drop from the leaderboard to a 26th-place finish. ... Matt Gogel had one of the day's best shots. Trapped behind a sapling in the pine straw on the 18th hole, Gogel had to move about 100 spectators from a patio area where they were eating, before he hacked at the ball, spinning it around the small tree and toward the front of the green. He wound up with a bogey. ... Second-round co-leaders Jerry Kelly and Kevin Sutherland finished at 7 under, tied for sixth.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Players Championship

  • Photo Gallery - The Players Championship

  • Full Coverage - The Players Championship

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