- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Tiger Woods shot his lowest round in 2½ years and his best closing round in PGA Tour history, a 62 at PGA National that included two eagles Sunday to make Rory McIlroy work hard to achieve the No. 1 ranking.
Woods began the final round of the Honda Classic nine strokes behind McIlroy but closed the tournament with a riveting eagle, knocking a 5-iron to 8 feet from 216 yards and holing the putt to, at the time, pull within one of McIlroy.
"It's just building," Woods said. "I was putting together the pieces each and every day. I wasn't that far off, and it was just kind of building. I had a great time out there. ... I've been hitting it like this, that's the thing. When it got windy out there early today, I thought I hit it well late last year in Oz (Australia), same kind of condition. No reason I can't do it again today. It all came together."
But McIlroy played solid golf down the stretch, shooting a 1-under-par 69 on Sunday to win his third PGA Tour title and sixth professional victory overall. He edged Woods and Tom Gillis by two strokes.
At various points during the tournament, Woods had difficulty with his putting or with hitting the ball close enough.
But after making just one birdie through the first three rounds on the six par-5s, he eagled them both Sunday and added four birdies to shoot his lowest score since the third round of the 2009 BMW Championship -- where he posted his 71st and final PGA Tour title.
The 62 was the lowest Woods has ever gone in a final round.
"I said to him on the second hole, 'I remember being your lucky charm, you S.O.B.'" said Ernie Els, who played with Woods on Sunday. "And we had a good laugh. To me, it was the old Tiger back. The guy I finished second to all the time. It was him being him again. I don't think he missed a shot all day."
Woods actually could have gone lower. He had a 9-footer for birdie lip out at the sixth hole. He hit 14 of 18 greens. And his score was accomplished in blustery conditions on a day that had a two-hour weather delay.
"He hit it good all week, but today was a different level," said Joe LaCava, Woods' caddie. "It was awesome. It was fun. He hit every shot exactly the way he wanted to hit it -- little hooks, little fades, anything he wanted."
Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for ESPN.com.
18hMicah Adams, ESPN Stats & Information