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Woods didn’t stick around for PGA’s conclusion

Despite trailing by just 2, he didn’t foresee a playoff

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AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods only needed three players to make bogey on the final hole of the PGA Championship to get into a playoff, and it's a good thing that didn't happen.

He had already gone home to Florida.

Woods said Tuesday he didn't bother sticking around Baltusrol for the final four holes, even though he was the clubhouse leader with a slim chance of finishing in a tie for the lead. Had that been the case, there would have been a three-hole playoff Monday morning, with Woods nowhere in sight.

Turns out he made the right call by flying home Sunday night.

Phil Mickelson birdied the last hole to finish at 4-under 276 for a one-shot victory over Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington, with Woods another stroke behind.

"These are the best players in the world," Woods said. "Look at who's on that board — it wasn't guys who have never been there before. If you have guys who had never been there before, then it might have been a different story, but each one of those guys had won major championships."

Still, it led to questions of what might have been.

Woods finished Sunday evening at 2-under 278. A short time later, the final round was suspended until Monday because of storms in the area, with 12 players still on the course — Mickelson at 4 under with a short par putt on the 14th hole; Bjorn (who has never won a major) at 3 under in the rough on No. 15 and Elkington at 3 under on the 16th tee; Vijay Singh at 2 under on the 16th green and Davis Love III at 2 under with an easy par putt on the 14th.

When Mickelson made bogey on the 16th hole to fall to 3 under, Woods was watching on television while working out in the gym in Florida, a two-hour flight away from Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J. Had there been a playoff, he would have been disqualified from the playoff and tied for second place.

Woods didn't see it that way.

He figured not all of the five players either tied or ahead of him would lose shots, especially since overnight rain softened the greens and the final two holes are par 5s.

"We got back to the house and looked at the scores," Woods said. "Not all five of those guys were coming back (to him on the leaderboard)."

His decision surprised some players.

"I thought he'd be hitting balls Monday morning at the golf course, because it's a tough course to finish on and it's a major championship," Stewart Cink said. "If anything, just him being there at the clubhouse and being seen might have affected the way they played on Monday."

Padraig Harrington recalled the time he was about 10 shots back, posted a low score and headed to the airport as the leaders began to falter. He wound up going back to the course, but there was never a playoff.

"I would have sat it out," the Irishman said. "But I have a little further to go home."