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Woods taking it easy until President's Cup

Tiger Woods stretched himself to the limit, and lost.

Not just to Sergio Garcia in Monday night's made-for-television event. He also surrendered to a body that finally caught up with the stress of three straight weeks of being Tiger.

The result was not so evident on the course, where Woods lost to Garcia 1 up, but later as he wearily answered a few questions before finally calling it a night.

"I've had three pretty good weeks. The last few months have been good to me," Woods said. "It builds up. My body just broke down a couple days short."

Woods headed for some much-deserved time off after a whirlwind nine days that saw him win the PGA Championship in a thriller, the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational in a walk and fail by a hole to win $1.1 million against Garcia.

He may play next month in the Bell Canadian Open, though that's not certain. After that, nothing until the Presidents Cup in mid-October.

Woods, seen here putting at the NEC Invitational, has had a tough few weeks. Though very successful. Allsport.

Woods battled flu-like symptoms during the last day of the NEC Invitational and against Garcia, complaining to his caddie Monday night on the 17th hole at Bighorn Golf Club that he was freezing on a warm desert evening.

He had won in darkness in Akron, Ohio, Sunday night, and given a golf clinic the next morning. Then he hopped on his jet to the desert, three hours behind Akron and the East Coast prime time for ABC.

"I wish I could have felt just a bit better," Woods said.

While Woods was not successful against Garcia, golf's return to prime time proved a winner once again.

Overnight ratings for the event, which stretched beyond its allotted time as the two went to the final hole, were 8.6, compared with 6.9 for Woods' match against David Duval last year. That was almost a point above the average for ABC's three Monday Night Football preseason games with Dennis Miller in the booth.

Even though the win was not official, Garcia reacted as if he had won a major championship himself.

After sinking the 10-footer for birdie to close Woods out on the final hole, he raised his arms in victory and his mother ran onto the green to hug him. For a player who has struggled all year after a promising rookie season, it was a special moment indeed.

"It was very exciting," Garcia said. "I think we both played very well. He's by far the best golfer in the world right now."

Garcia's win came under the lights, which were set up on the final four holes, lending the affair an almost surreal aura.

Because of cloud cover and a late start, the 14th hole was played almost in darkness, with Garcia making a putt from off the green using light from the nearby 15th to try and see the hole.

"It felt like a good putt, but I couldn't see the hole," Garcia said.

Garcia made a 35-footer on No. 16 to take the lead for good. Woods almost holed his shot from the 18th fairway before Garcia made the birdie putt that closed out the match.

"I don't know if it's good for golf or not, but we had a wonderful atmosphere," Woods said. "We got to the 15th hole and there were six flag shadows. It was interesting to see."

Woods pocketed $400,000 for the loss, bringing his total in nine days to $2.3 million. Garcia, meanwhile, more than doubled his season earnings on the PGA TOUR in the unofficial event.

More important, perhaps, was that it was good enough television to hold the interest of casual viewers who may have tuned in just to see Woods.

"We made it to the 18th, which I'm sure the producer of the show wasn't against," Woods said.

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