Woods captures eighth Bridgestone title

By Associated PressAugust 4, 2013, 10:54 pm

AKRON, Ohio – They say par is a good score in a major. If that's true next week at the PGA Championship, then Tiger Woods is already dialed in.

Woods played safe and smart with a big lead, parring 16 holes in an even-par 70 Sunday to coast to a seven-shot victory at the Bridgestone Invitational for his eighth win at the event - matching the PGA Tour record he shares for victories in a single tournament.

As he walked to the scorer's trailer to finalize his score, he scooped up young son Charlie.

After a second-round 61 in which he flirted with 59, Woods ended up at 15-under 265 to easily beat defending champ Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Woods' mastery at Firestone Country Club allowed him to again match Sam Snead's PGA Tour record for wins in an event. Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Earlier this year, Woods won at Bay Hill for the eighth time.

As if he weren't already the favorite next week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the lopsided victory reinforced it.

No one ever got within six shots all day of the world's No. 1.

When he had a good shot at a pin, he took it. Otherwise, he took few, if any, risks.

He had birdied the short, par-4 first hole each of the first three days, and had played the second in 3 under as well. But he came up just short on the opening hole and chipped up for an easy par. At the second, he found a fairway bunker off the tee, blasted out and hit his approach to 10 feet but his birdie putt skidded off the edge. Tap-in par.

That's pretty much the way it went the first nine holes, until Woods stuffed his second shot at the par-4 10th inside 8 feet and then poured in the birdie putt to break up a string of pars.

That briefly pushed the lead to eight shots. It never fell below seven as the field had difficulty putting up many birdies as Firestone dried out, the greens got faster and the old course bared its fangs.

A three-putt at the 14th hole brought Woods' lone bogey, but by then most of the field was thinking about catching flights to Rochester instead of catching Woods.

Bradley, who won a year ago when Jim Furyk double-bogeyed the 72nd hole, shot a 67 to get to 8 under along with Stenson, who had a 70 while playing with Woods.


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, videos and photos


Tied for fourth were Cleveland-born Jason Dufner (71), Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) and Zach Johnson (67) at 6 under, with Martin Kaymer, who matched the day's best round with a 66, at 4 under along with Furyk, Richard Sterne and Luke Donald.

For those betting Woods won't win next week at Oak Hill, keep in mind that he has already won both the Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in the same year three times in his career (2000, 2006, 2007).

Still, the odds do not favor him coming right back with another win. In the 19 times in which he has won his last start before a major, he's only followed up with a win four times: 2000 U.S. Open (after winning The Memorial), 2001 Masters (Players), 2006 PGA (Buick) and 2007 PGA (Bridgestone).

The victory was Woods' 79th on the PGA Tour, drawing him within three of Snead's record 82 triumphs.

Lest anyone think he'll have difficulty surpassing Snead's total, consider that Woods is over 10 years younger (he's 37 1/2) than Snead was when he won his 82nd and final event, the 1965 Greater Greensboro.

Even though he's a California native, Woods has found a second home in Ohio where he's collected 13 victories - also including five at The Memorial Tournament.

Woods won the Bridgestone, and it's forerunner the NEC Invitational, about every way imaginable: overcoming a crazy shot that went onto the clubhouse roof, putting out in almost total darkness, running away early, outdueling a foe down the stretch.

Woods, who has five wins this year to have at least that many in a year for the 10th time, also has won 18 World Golf Championship series events in just 42 starts.

Really, he won the tournament in the rain on Friday.

The 61 he had in the second round - he needed to go just 2 under over the final five holes to shoot a magical 59 - matched his career best, mustered three previous times including once before at Firestone.

In the two previous times he won the Bridgestone and then played in the PGA Championship, he finished first at Southern Hills in 2007 and then placed second - blowing a final-round lead to Y.E. Yang - in 2009 at Hazeltine.

He's far from a lock next week, however.

Woods has not won in his last 17 starts in a major, calling into question his shot at surpassing Jack Nicklaus' record 18 victories in majors. Woods has 14 – and all eyes will be on him as he heads to Pittsford, N.Y.

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.