Woods nearly knocked off McIlroy

An eagle at No. 18 in the final round gave Tiger an impressive 62 and almost a Honda Classic win. Jim Rassol/Getty Images

Honda Classic, March 1-4, 71-68-69-62 (T-2)

For a time on Friday, it appeared as if Tiger Woods might miss the cut. Then he made a late rush to qualify for the weekend easily but found himself 9 strokes behind Rory McIlroy through 54 holes.

However, Woods put together a Sunday flourish that energized the crowd and made McIlroy work hard to reach the No. 1 world ranking. Woods had four birdies and two eagles, including one after an extraordinary 4-iron shot to 8 feet on the 18th hole briefly pulled him within 1 stroke. It was the best final round of his PGA Tour career, but it ultimately wasn't enough to catch 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 conditions. No reason I can't do it again today. It all came together.''

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.