Check List Woods Adds New Title to Resume

By Associated PressMay 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Wachovia ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A tournament that looks like a major now has a winner whose career is defined by them.
 
Tiger Woods added the Wachovia Championship to his growing collection of trophies Sunday with a 60-foot eagle putt to take the lead, a double bogey that kept it interesting, and by avoiding the kind of calamity that doomed his challengers down the stretch at Quail Hollow.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods used a great start to propel him to victory. (WireImage)
Despite the topsy-turvy finish, the outcome was all too familiar.
 
Backed by a two-shot lead on the toughest hole on the course, Woods played it safe and made par from 8 feet to close with a 3-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Steve Stricker.
 
It was Woods' third victory this year, and his ninth on the PGA TOUR in his last 12 starts dating to his missed cut in the U.S. Open. He finished at 13-under 275, the lowest score to win the tournament, and earned $1.134 million for the 57th victory of his career. He also went atop the FedExCup standings for the first time this season.
 
'Over the course of my career, I've won a few tournaments here and there, and it's been nice,' Woods said. 'This one, considering the field and the golf course and the conditions, ecstatic to have won here.'
 
Stricker had his best chance to win for the first time since 2001, one shot behind with three holes to play. He hit into the trees and the sand on the 16th on his way to double bogey, recovered with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th, then lost all hope when he went for the flag on the 18th and hit into the creek. He shot 69.
 
Rory Sabbatini, who said he wanted Woods in the final pairing, didn't make a par until the 10th hole and closed with a 74 to tie for third with Phil Mickelson, who closed with a 70 but was never a factor.
 
The Wachovia Championship is only 5 years old but already regarded one of the best stops on the PGA TOUR with its world-class course and strong field -- only the Masters and two World Golf Championships had more top players. Of the five winners in its short history, four of them are major champions.
 
Woods struggled with his swing, and he kept swing coach Hany Haney with him all week, which is rare. But he didn't lose his touch for pivotal moments, especially on the par-5 seventh hole. He narrowly went into the water off the tee, then watched a 60-foot putt roll down the ridge and into the cup for eagle and his lead.
 
He never trailed again. He followed that with two birdies to close out the front nine in 31.
 
Then, just like everyone else, he hung on for dear life. Woods blew a three-shot lead with six holes to play when he took double bogey with a three-putt on the 13th, and Stricker made a 5-foot birdie on the 15th ahead of him.
 
'I thought if I could could even par, I could have a chance,' Stricker said.
 
That's a tall order at Quail Hollow, which has one of the most daunting, three-hole finishes on the PGA TOUR. They are the three toughest holes on the course in descending order -- with 18th as the hardest -- and Stricker paid dearly on the 16th.
 
Vijay Singh, who briefly held the lead with a short birdie on the seventh, couldn't make up ground and finished with a bogey on the 16th and a triple bogey on the 18th when he twice hit into the water. He shot 74 and fell five places to a tie for seventh.
 
Sabbatini made a joke Saturday night to XM Radio about his 'David and Goliath' final pairing with Woods, saying it was tough to consider the world's No. 1 player as David. He had a one-shot lead to start the final round, but was four behind at the turn.
 
'He got the job done today and I didn't. I don't have any regrets about that,' Sabbatini said about his comment. 'I want him every week now.'
 
Woods was in a three-way tie for the lead with Singh and Sabbatini when he chipped to 5 feet above the hole at No. 6 and poured it in. Then came a most peculiar turn of events on the par-5 seventh.
 
'Ah, it's in the water,' caddie Steve Williams said while watching Woods' tee shot from under a tree.
 
The ball took a hard hop beyond the bunker, but Woods caught a huge break when it stopped 18 inches from going into the stream. He went for the green from 193 yards out and easily made it, but the ball was only a yard away from catching a slope and feeding down toward the hole. Instead, he was faced with a 60-foot putt down the steep ridge.
 
It seemed to take forever to get there.
 
Woods barely rapped it, then straightened his back to watch it track toward the hole, guiding it with his hand as it got close. He raised his arms and backed away when it fell, a slight look of surprise, then turned and delivered a fist pump that hadn't been seen in a while.
 
The eagle put him at 13 under, one shot ahead of Singh, whom Woods had just watched make birdie with a tricky 4-foot putt.
 
And the world's No. 1 player took off from there.
 
With the gallery still buzzing, he pitched a sand wedge to 8 feet on the next hole for birdie. And from the rough left of the ninth fairway, his approach barely cleared the bunker and bounced off a knob to 18 feet. That birdie putt dropped on the final turn, sending Woods to a 31 on the outward nine.
 
It was a remarkable score in difficult conditions, with wind gusting through tree-lined fairways and sunshine making the greens as firm as they'd been the first two rounds.
 
He had a three-shot lead heading to the 10th tee, and there was little doubt who was going to win.
 
Woods still found a way to make it interesting.
 
He missed the green to the right on the par-3 13th, and his flop shot was 18 feet beyond the hole, a safe shot. But he three-putted for double bogey, missing from 4 feet as his lead whittled away.
 
He dropped another shot on the 17th, but by then he was on his way to another victory.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry