Article

Woods upbeat but rues ´little mistakes´ after Valspar runner-up finish

12 March 2018 00:07

Tiger Woods reflected positively on his week's efforts after coming up one shot shy at the Valspar Championship, but rued the "little mistakes" that ultimately cost him victory.

Seeking a first PGA Tour triumph since 2013, in his fourth start of the year after a succession of back surgeries, Woods finished a stroke behind Paul Casey at Palm Harbor on Sunday.

The 14-time major champion looked unlikely to seriously challenge Casey's clubhouse target of 10 under par as he struggled to build momentum in his final round.

However, a stunning 44-foot birdie putt on the 17th gave Woods a chance of forcing a play-off and all eyes were on the former world number one at 18 after Patrick Reed's hopes of victory evaporated in dismal fashion.

Reed three-putted the last to give up a share of the lead – his initial effort rolling back down a ridge to his feet – but Woods could not pull off a miracle, missing the target from 39 feet to ensure Casey prevailed.

There was nevertheless much for Woods to be positive about, as he registered his best finish since winning five events in 2013.

"It was a very good week," he told Sky Sports. "I've got a little bit better since [the] Honda [Classic], the last time I played, a couple of weeks ago.

"It was a very difficult week, tough conditions on a tough golf course, very demanding, and I thought I held up really well."

Asked about the electric atmosphere in Florida on the final day, as huge crowds followed his every move, Woods added: "It felt very comfortable. I remember it and on top of that my game is sharp.

"Unfortunately I just didn't hit the ball close enough to make a few putts. I could have made a couple, missed a short one at four, should have birdied 14. Those little mistakes over the course of a week will get you, and it got me this week."

Woods will now turn his attention to the Arnold Palmer Invitational – a tournament he has won eight times – before heading to the Masters at Augusta amid significantly heightened expectations.

"I'm looking forward to it, [and] I'm looking forward to next week," he said.

"Unfortunately I haven't played Bay Hill in a couple of years. I really wanted to play it a couple of years ago before Arnold passed. We knew he was really struggling and I wasn't in any shape to play, so it will be good for me to go back.

"I've lived there for a number of years, my kids were born in Orlando, so that tournament has a real close part to my heart and I'm really looking forward to it."

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