Tiger Tames Monster Once Again

By Associated PressMarch 5, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Ford Championship at DoralMIAMI -- Tiger Woods played his best golf when he finally got some competition Sunday at Doral, then was at his worst when it no longer mattered.
 
Despite a bogey-bogey finish on the Blue Monster, Woods closed with a 3-under 69 for a one-shot victory over David Toms and Colombian rookie Camilo Villegas in the Ford Championship at Doral, his second PGA Tour victory of the year and the 13th time he has successfully defended a title.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods celebrates his 48th career PGA Tour victory.
Woods finished at 20-under 268 and never lost his lead on a breezy afternoon, and after Toms closed to within one shot with two straight birdies on the back nine, Woods found another gear. He holed a 12-foot birdie on the 11th, then became the only player to reach the 603-yard 12th in two shots for a birdie to restore his lead to three shots.
 
Toms made it easier for him at the end.
 
Woods, who hit a wedge over the 17th green to make his first bogey of the final round, was in the right rough on the daunting 18th hole, leading by one shot. He watched Toms run a 60-foot birdie putt some 10 feet past the hole, then miss the par putt for his first three-putt of the week.
 
Woods only needed a bogey, and it showed. He hit his approach well right into a bunker, blasted out to 12 feet and two-putted for a bogey.
 
'Anywhere inside the bleachers and I'm fine ... just as long as I can make bogey,' Woods said. 'A 'W' is a 'W.''
 
Woods' 48th career victory enhanced his reputation as golf's best closer. He now is 34-3 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, and he has never lost in 20 tries when leading by at least two going into the last round.
 
He became the first repeat winner at Doral since Raymond Floyd won in 1980 and 1981.
 
Toms and Villegas each shot 67 to finish at 269.
 
Villegas, a 24-year-old darling of this large Latino crowd in south Florida, made two birdies over his final five holes and secured his PGA Tour card for next year. He also tied for second at the FBR Open at Phoenix, and now has earned more than $700,000 in the first two months.
 
He got within two shots of Woods early in the round, but couldn't sustain it.
 
'We are talking here about the best player in the world,' Villegas said. 'I played well. I had fun.'
 
Toms quickly applied pressure with an 8-foot birdie on the par-5 10th, then a shot from the fairway bunker on the 11th to 15 feet for another birdie. And even after Woods extended his lead to three, Toms plugged away with a birdie on the 16th to keep in range.
 
But the 18th hole has been a problem all week for Toms, and he had 4-iron from the rough that left him no chance of taking on the flag. Toms had not paid attention to a leaderboard all day, knowing he still had an outside shot by the energy in the crowd.
 
An NBC analyst told him the score, and Toms suddenly felt the heat.
 
'I wasn't even nervous all day because I'm trying to catch the guy,' Toms said. 'All of a sudden, I've got a putt all the way across the green, big break, and I'm nervous because I'm just trying to two-putt. That's my mistake. But if I had been looking at it all day, then maybe I would have felt that way all the way through the back nine.'
 
Woods saw Toms' ball on the green as he walked up the fairway, and he had a 9-iron in his hand from the rough.
 
'I was hoping I could grab a lie so if I had to make 4, I could,' he said.
 
He went well right of the water and trouble and into a bunker, slightly against the back lip. It wasn't an easy shot, but Woods hit safely to 12 feet and needed only two putts to win.
 
His last four victories had come in playoff -- the American Express Championship, Dunlop Phoenix, Buick Invitational and the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
Toms wasn't beating himself up for a bogey on the 18th, simply because it's one of the toughest closing holes on the PGA Tour. The average score was 4.5 on Sunday.
 
He was more frustrated by his 70 in the third round, which left him three shots behind Woods.
 
'When you play against Tiger, you can't slip up,' Toms said. 'You just have to play solid every day.'
 
Even though Woods had a two-shot lead, he was in no position to play it safe with so many players poised to make a move and only a gentle breeze that took some teeth out of the Blue Monster.
 
Villegas made eagle on the first hole to get within one, and birdies on the sixth and seventh holes brought him to within two shots. But the young Colombian went seven straight holes without a birdie and fell too far behind.
 
With no one making a serious run, Woods kept it simple.
 
He added a birdie at No. 5 with a big drive and a sand wedge that spun back to 4 feet, and he hit wedge out of the rough on the sixth to 6 feet to reach 20 under.
 
Then Toms showed up, and Woods found another gear.
 
Woods now has won four of his six last tournaments worldwide. Doral will host a World Golf Championship next year, although that might make Woods even more tough. He already has won 10 of those.
 
Divots:
Phil Mickelson hit into the water on the eighth and ninth holes and wound up with a 73 to tie for 12th. ... Tiger Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, recently took possession of a Ford GT that came with Woods' victory last year. This time, he opted for the copper Mustang. Asked if his wife had any say over who got the car, Woods said, 'No, she has others.' ... Jeff Sluman matched the best round of the day at 66 and moved up 27 spots into a tie for seventh. ... Among those in the gallery Sunday was seven-time LPGA winner Michelle McGann, who was watching Rich Beem. They both work with Dr. Michael Larden.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Championship at Doral
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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