By Steve Keating

The back-nine charge, however, was far too little, too late to earn Woods a place in the elite 30-man field for the lucrative season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

His one-under total of 283 left him in a tie for 15th and well out of the fifth place finish he needed to advance to the finale.

It marks the third time in five years that Woods has not played the Tour Championship. He missed the event in 2008 while recuperating from knee surgery and in 2006 when he qualified but decided to end his season early.

Instead of making the trip to East Lake, Woods will have two weeks off to work on his inconsistent game and prepare for next month's Ryder Cup showdown with Europe at Celtic Manor.

"I would rather be there. I've played better than I have all this year.

"But it is what it is. I didn't qualify and since I'm at home it gives me two weeks to practice and prepare."

Woods has plenty to occupy his time as he struggles to put his personal life back together after scandalous divorce and continues to work on a swing overhaul.

Aside from the Ryder Cup, Woods will have other opportunities to test the progress of his revamped swing with events in Australia and China as well as his own tournament on his late season schedule.

There are signs, however, that he is not far away from returning to his old dominating form, according to world number two Phil Mickelson, who was paired with his great rival during Sunday's final round.

"I think his game is like inches from being there," said Mickelson. "His speed is back. He's solid, very close. He's hitting shots.

"He hit a lot of good shots there coming in. He made a couple of bogeys and followed up with a number of birdies there toward the end.

"You can tell that his game is like inches from turning because his speed is back and his putter looks great.

"His game is not far off at all. It looks very close to being right there."

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)