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This time, there was more emphasis on who played well late in the season, and the points system was altered to give all 30 finalists at least a semblance of a chance going into the Tour Championship.
"What is right? Every year you're going to have a scenario that's going to jump out and you're going to say, 'That just doesn't seem right,'" Stricker said. "You've got to put something together like they did this year that creates a lot of excitement like this did. With five guys having a chance to win, it did do that."
Mickelson finished at 9-under 271 and earned $1.35 million. He also collected $3 million for being second in the FedEx Cup. It was his third victory of the year, the 37th of his career and it pushed him back to No. 2 in the world ranking.
Woods, playing in the final group with Perry, struggled most of the day with his putter, but two late birdies helped him lock up the cup.
As he stood on the 18th green with his biggest rival, perturbed by his inability to make putts inside 20 feet, Woods found it hard to consider himself a winner.
"I'm sure I would probably be more happy tomorrow than I am right now, because you're in the moment trying to win this event," he said. "I'm trying to beat Phil, he's trying to beat me."
Mickelson seized control with a 31 on the front nine. His lone birdie on the back came from a chip-in out of a nasty lie behind the 16th green that essentially secured his victory.
Lefty's only hope for the FedEx Cup was for Woods to finish eighth or worse, a slight possibility until Woods made his first birdie of the final round with two putts at the par-5 15th. He followed with a 35-foot birdie on the 16th -- his first one-putt birdie in 24 holes, which brought out his first fist pump of the day.
"I just needed to push, needed a run or two or three birdies to get me right back in the ball game," Woods said. "Unfortunately, that run didn't happen until 15. And that's a little late."
Still, Woods got the title -- and the prize -- that mattered most to another of his rivals.
"I'd prefer the 10 million bucks in my pocket," O'Hair said. "I think Tiger wins today."
The PGA Tour was a winner, too.
Just check out that picture from the 18th green.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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