JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Once again, Tiger Woods showed signs of physical discomfort during his final round at the Barclays, despite shooting a 2-under-par 69 that left him in a tie for second, just one shot behind winner Adam Scott.
But will his bad back force him to miss this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston?
Woods wasn’t committing either way.
“That’s all hypothetical right now,” Woods said, when asked if he’ll be in the field in Norton come Friday. “I just got off [the course] and I’m not feeling my best right now.”
He fought back spasms all week at the Barclays, blaming it on a soft hotel bed. It started before the tournament, with Woods participating in Wednesday’s pro-am but not hitting any full shots, limiting himself to chipping and putting.
The back spasms appeared to be most painful at the 13th hole on Sunday, when Woods dropped to his knees after badly pulling his second shot, which went into a hazard and led to a bogey. He took his time after that whenever he had to bend down, either putting in his tee or picking up his ball, and walked gingerly.
Since its inception, the Deutsche Bank Championship has designated Woods’s foundation as the tournament’s primary charitable beneficiary, and this year the Tiger Woods Foundation has assumed day-to-day operation of the event.
He does have an extra day to get healthy, because the tournament doesn’t start until Friday. If Woods can’t play, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been forced to skip the Deutsche Bank Championship. He missed it in 2008 while recovering from knee surgery, and missed it again in 2011 when he wasn’t high enough on the points list.
It didn’t produce a victory, but Phil Mickelson saw enough over the weekend to give him plenty of optimism heading into the Deutsche Bank Championship.
He closed 70-65 to tie for sixth at the Barclays, his best finish since winning his fifth major championship, the British Open, last month. The 65 tied for the day’s low score, and even came with a bogey at the 18th hole.
“I believed that today was going to be a good day and it was a day whether I went really low or not, that it would build some momentum for next week,” Mickelson said. “I feel like now, my ball striking is coming around. It was pretty sharp. I feel really good on the greens and I’m looking forward to getting to Boston next week.”
Mickelson must be feeling something. A day earlier, after the third round, he said, “If I can just put it together [Sunday] and get a little bit of momentum, I think next week will be a good week.”
He has the momentum. Now he’ll head to TPC Boston, where he won in 2007 and has finished in the top 10 the last two years: a tie for fourth last year, and a tie for 10th in 2011.
The plan was hatched on Saturday, once Jonas Blixt knew he’d be paired in the final round with Rickie Fowler. But he would need to borrow some pants. Good thing Fowler travels with plenty.
Known for his head-to-toe orange attire in the final round of every tournament, Fowler is accustomed to seeing young fans wearing the same outfit outside the ropes. Blixt, in matching orange, was the first to duplicate Fowler’s look inside the ropes.
“He started reacting to people yelling ‘Rickie!’ so he was waving for me today,” said Fowler, who shot 70 and tied for ninth. “A lot of people didn’t understand that we’re actually friends and this might have been planned. Of course this was planned.”
If Blixt is superstitious, it might be the last time we see him in Fowler orange. First of all, he had to squeeze into Fowler’s pants (waist size: 30), then went out and shot 81 wearing them.
“I’m going to burn them,” Blixt joked. “Bad idea. But if I shot 81 and didn’t wear this, I’d probably be a little more [upset]. It’s just golf.”
To kick off Deutsche Bank Championship week, defending champion Rory McIlroy will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning. McIlroy, who tied for 19th at the Barclays, will be joined by Jacques Brand, the CEO of Deutsche Bank North America . . . Kevin Chappell had a costly back nine at Liberty National. The leader by two strokes with eight holes to play, Chappell closed with three bogeys and two double bogeys for a 76. Instead of winning for the first time on tour and pocketing $1.44 million, Chappell earned $132,000 after slipping into a tie for 15th . . . Keegan Bradley tied for 33d after a Sunday 72.