NORTON, Mass. - Phil Mickelson's return to Beantown was sweeter than he ever imagined.
He was sitting in a suite at Fenway Park on Saturday night when Boston Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter. And on a Labor Day finish that brought playoff atmosphere to the PGA Tour, Lefty pitched a gem of his own.
With thousands of fans standing six-deep behind the greens, and hundreds more camped out in front of video boards, Mickelson blew away Tiger Woods with a flawless front nine and held him off down the stretch to win the Deutsche Bank Championship, a sign that Lefty is healthy enough to again challenge the world's No. 1 player.
"I had a lot of fun - not just today, this whole week," said Mickelson, who closed with a 5-under 66 for a two-shot victory Monday. "We went and saw the no-hitter in Fenway Park. How often does that happen?"
More often than Mickelson going head-to-head in the final round against Woods and winning the tournament.
That was a first.
But the way he played all week, including the first two rounds with Woods and Vijay Singh, it might not be the last.
It was the first victory for Mickelson since The Players Championship in May, when he looked ready to make another run at Woods. Then he injured his left wrist that cost him his summer, and only recently has Mickelson been able to swing without flinching.
The pain on this Labor Day belonged to Woods.
He couldn't make a putt on the front nine, and couldn't deliver enough clutch putts while trying to make up ground on the final holes.
He wound up with 67 despite taking 32 putts, which left him tied for second with Arron Oberholser (69) and Brett Wetterich (70). The buzz outside Beantown was on the biggest names in golf, and Mickelson relished this victory.
"For 10 years I've struggled against Tiger," Mickelson said. "This sure feels great to go head-to-head ... and over the last five or six holes when he's making a run, it was fun to match him with birdies."
Mickelson finished at 16-under 268 and earned $1.26 million, moving him atop the standings in the PGA Tour Playoffs.