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Tiger places 2nd in Miami

MIAMI (AFP) – Tiger Woods came up just short of his 80th US PGA Tour title on Sunday at the Valspar Championship, where it was England’s Paul Casey ending a victory drought with a one-stroke triumph.

Woods, the 14-time major champion playing just his fourth Tour event since spinal fusion surgery last April, showed he’s a contender again as he fired a one-under-par 70 to share second on nine-under 275 – one stroke behind Casey who surged to his second US PGA Tour title with a 65 for 274.

“I think I’ve gotten a little better than what I was a couple of weeks ago,” Woods said. “I keep getting just a little better and a little sharper. Today I wasn’t quite as sharp as I would like to have had it, but I had a good shot at winning this golf tournament.”

Woods’ fusion surgery ended a brief comeback bid last year. He remains in search of his first title since 2013 – but on Sunday it finally looked as if it wasn’t a question of whether that drought will end but when.

He opened with a birdie on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, Florida, but gave that stroke back with a bogey at the fourth.

Woods didn’t find another birdie until the 17th, where he drained a putt of almost 45 feet to close within one stroke of Casey’s clubhouse lead and send his massive gallery into a frenzy.

He couldn’t repeat the feat at the 18th to force a playoff, however, another long birdie try coming up a couple of feet short.

Woods finished the day tied for second with fellow American Patrick Reed.

Reed opened his round with a 60-foot eagle putt from the collar of the green at the first. He was 10-under through 17, but dropped out of playoff contention with a shocking bogey at the last, where his first putt failed to make it to the upper tier of the green where the pin was located.