Woods Beats Mickelson, Back at No. 1

Tiger Woods (search) won a dramatic duel with Phil Mickelson (search) Sunday to win the Ford Championship at Doral and regain the No. 1 ranking.

Woods made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take the lead, then a 6-foot par putt to close with a 6-under 66 and win the Ford Championship at Doral (search), making him the No. 1 for the first time since September.

Mickelson, coming off dominant victories in his last two stroke-play tournaments, had a chance to force a playoff or possibly win on the 18th. His 30-foot chip looked good all the way, but caught the lower lip. He closed with a 69.

"The whole day, we were going at each other," Woods said. "It was fun to be a part of that."

This Sunday showdown exceeded the expectations of a battle between two of the biggest names in golf. A sellout crowd was buzzing from start-to-finish, especially during wild momentum changes on the back nine of the Blue Monster.

Woods reached the 603-yard 12th hole for the second time in two days for an eagle to take a two-shot lead. Mickelson answered with back-to-back birdies to catch him.

Lefty looked like he had control of the tournament until he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 16th, and then Woods delivered like he usually does with two clutch putts.

Woods, who earned $990,000 for his second victory of the year, finished at 24-under 264 to break by one shot the tournament record at Doral, previously held by Jim Furyk (2000) and Greg Norman (1993). This is the sixth PGA Tour event where Woods has at least a share of the 72-hole record.

Vijay Singh, who had been No. 1 the last 26 weeks after beating Woods in a Labor Day duel outside Boston, closed with a 66 to finish third, five shots behind, along with Zach Johnson (67).

Mickelson's streak of 10 consecutive rounds in stroke play atop the leaderboard ended, but not without a gutsy fight. Most players would have buckled when Woods surged into the lead, but Mickelson came right back at him.

Woods took the lead for the first time all week in spectacular fashion. From 293 yards away in the 12th fairway, he took a big crack with his 3-wood, bowed his head and started walking, waiting for the cheers to tell him he hit the green for the second straight day. No one else reached it all week.

Woods holed the 25-foot eagle putt, taking two steps to the right throwing a big uppercut when it fell, giving him a two-shot lead. It appeared the tournament suddenly was his to win.

Not so fast. Lefty bounced back with consecutive birdies to catch him, starting with an 8-footer on the 243-yard 13th hole. But he wasted two great chances.

Mickelson grazed the lip on a 10-foot birdie on the 15th, then caught the lip on a 5-footer for par at No. 16 after Woods had already failed to get-and-down from a bunker.

It was the first time in 67 holes either of them had made a bogey. They performed at such a high level that they each made 27 birdies on the Blue Monster, a career-high for both.

It was only the third time Woods and Mickelson have played against each other in the final round, and Woods improved to 3-0. The other two times were the 2001 Masters, where Woods had a one-shot lead; and the 2003 Buick Invitational, where Woods was two ahead of Mickelson.

This was the first time Lefty had the lead, and he battled hard to keep it.

Woods managed to get within one shot of Mickelson at the turn, and their scoring was ordinary given the superb conditions of balmy breezes and greens as soft as carpet.

Both had their chances.

Woods missed back-to-back birdie putts from 8 feet early in the round, but a pivotal hole came at the par-3 fourth. Mickelson stuffed his tee shot into 5 feet, while Woods' tee shot bounded off the side of the hill and was saved by thick rough from going into the water.

He chipped some 10 feet by, and it looked as though Mickelson would double his lead. Instead, Woods made a tricky par putt and Mickelson missed his birdie. One hole later, Woods nicked the flag with his approach and made a 4-foot birdie. They matched shots the rest of the way, both of them twice missing birdie putts inside 12 feet.

The gallery soaked up every shot.

Every patch of grass was covered by fans from tee-to-green. The tournament was a sellout about an hour after the leaders teed off, some 35,000 people swarming around the Blue Monster. They stood as many as six-deep around the shots, lined every path to the next tee box cheering as both walked by, the kind of atmosphere rarely seen except at major championships.

Mickelson and Woods kept them in the suspense to the very end.

Singh tried to make it interesting with birdies on his first four holes and getting as close as three shots of the lead when he made a short birdie on the par-5 12th. That threat ended when Woods made his eagle, and Singh dropped shots on the 16th and 17th holes before finishing with a birdie.

His only hope was hanging onto the No. 1 ranking another week. Woods took care of Mickelson, then Singh, with a par putt on the last hole.