Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were long gone from Oak Hill Country Club by the time Jason Dufner hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy -- the world’s top-ranked player unhappy with his failure to find fairways all week and brushing off concerns about another potential injury, and No. 2 hungering for some home cooking.
Woods, who grabbed at his back after several shots during Sunday’s final round of the PGA Championship, from which he exited with an even-par 70, well before Dufner and Jim Furyk in the final pairing took the field, told reporters the twinges were nothing.
"No," he said about whether he expected to have to nurse his lower back, which he said tensed up on him on Sunday. "It’s been tight all day. Just one of those things."
His wayward tee shots and inability to hop on the birdie bandwagon at Oak Hill (he made only 10 all week while guys around him were going low), which contributed to yet another missed opportunity to claim his 15th major title, were another matter. He hit nine of 14 fairways on Friday, five on Saturday and four on Sunday.
Other stats loomed large as well, as he found 12 greens in regulation in the final round and needed 30 putts to end his week in a tie for 40th at 4-over -- two touchdowns behind Dufner.
On a larger scale, it meant that Woods, still stuck on 14, concluded his fifth straight season without chipping away at Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
"Is it concerning? No," said Woods, who noted he had been in the hunt in several of the 18 majors he’s started since he won the 2008 U.S. Open. The record bears him out, as he has nine top-10 finishes in those events, and, but for that flagstick at Augusta in April, he likely would have closed at better than the T4 he recorded.
"It’s more frustrating not being in it," he said. "Having a chance on the back nine Sunday, I can live with that. It's always frustrating going out there, I'm 3-over today, got to 7 [over], and I'm grinding my tail off coming in just to shoot even-par for the day. And I'm nowhere in it. That’s tough."
Before Woods took off to spend some time with his two kids, Mickelson, who must have set a world record for speed golf in his final round, jetted back to California and the confines of his backyard practice area for some needed blows and retooling. The five-time major winner, with the Claret Jug in tow, said he would put the most recent past behind him and prepare for the final push of the season, the FedEx Cup series.
For sure, the winner of the Scottish and British Opens was not going to let his awful week, which included a third-round 78 that matched his worst score ever in a major, get into his head.
"I didn’t play very well the last two weeks," said Mickelson, who carded a T21 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before bottoming out at Oak Hill with a weeklong tally of 12-over and a tie for 72nd, two scores clear of last place.
"I’m not going to worry about it," he said. "I’m going to go home, take a few days off, get my short game sharp and start back up in four or five days for the FedEx Cup. I’m not going to worry too much about it."
Mickelson, like his superstar counterpart who jetted home to Florida as the leaders were starting their rounds Sunday, struggled off the tee. He found 30 of 56 fairways all week, according to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard, who noted that the addition of his 2-wood hybrid "Phrankenwood," which Mickelson uses as a driver, did not help.
Despite his driving futility at Oak Hill, Mickelson said he would use the 2-wood in two weeks at The Barclays, which kicks off the four-playoff tournaments.
"I'm going to go just work on my short game at my home, just chip and putt, and then wait four or five days before I start hitting balls again because I want to just kind of forget these couple of weeks where I really haven't struck it the way I had for a few months," he said. "I'll look at some film from those events I played well and just try to do the same thing that I was doing."