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Tiger Woods comfortable contending after near-miss at Valspar Championship

12 March 2018

The only thing missing: a victory.

Building momentum from 12th place at the Honda Classic two weeks ago in his third official tournament since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, Woods was treated this week like a returning hero.

NEW YORK - Fresh off a record-setting performance in the New England Indoor Track & Field Championships earlier this week, Exeter High School senior Jackie Gaughan placed third in the 2-mile at the New Balance Nationals Indoor on Sunday.

Woods shot 4-under 67 Saturday in Round 3, his lowest score on Tour since 2015.

On Thursday, Woods hit an awesome shot on hole No. 16.

As good as Woods looked all week, though, he was unable to summon his legendary closing power Sunday, falling one shot short of victory, an honor claimed by Paul Casey, who finished 10-under to Woods' and Patrick Reed's 9-under.

Casey said the rest of the tour should be thrilled with what Woods is doing.

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"I believe my game is progressing", Woods said. "A couple putts here and there, and it could've been a different story".

He did not, however, go quietly. "That's why I thought Tiger was going to win today, because he's probably watched Phil win, and figured I want to win".

"I felt very comfortable".

"I was just grinding and try to put myself in there", he said. "But I'm glad it's this way".

Reed's next shot fell less than a foot short, and he tapped it in for a bogey to finished tied for second with Woods. But it came up 20 feet shy and fed back down to the front of the green. That putt was good for a birdie, pulling him within one entering the 18th hole.

A quick post-round congratulations from Valspar Championship runner-up Tiger Woods on Sunday was a nice turnabout from past meetings.

After a week of promise, it was not to be. He's swinging hard. He's swinging with confidence. "I moved all the people and even warned them in case the club breaks and gets over there". Get the app and get the game.

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"He's got the right energy".

"He hit it pretty decent, but I wouldn't say great", LaCava said.

Woods didn't end his near five-year victory drought but he was still pleased with his week and looking forward to chasing a ninth win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in his final warm-up for the Masters.

He missed birdie chances on both par 5s on the back nine, pulling a wedge into the rough at No. 11 and three-putting from 80 feet on No. 14.

Woods' shot went over a lake and just below the green. He had just 21 putts in his final round, drilling seven birdies and adding a lone bogey on the 3rd.

The 14-time major victor, who has struggled with a series of injuries since his most recent victory, laid well back off the 18th tee and hit his approach from 185 yards to just inside 40 feet. While the eyes of everyone in the golf world (yours truly included) were glued onto Woods, it was Casey who came in ready to continue a trend that's been happening at Innisbrook for years.

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Tiger Woods comfortable contending after near-miss at Valspar Championship