Thats why hes Tiger Woods, said runner-up Bart Bryant, who pushed Woods to the limit and beat the mere mortals in the field. Hes done it before and hell do it again.
What else, Arnold Palmer whispered into the ear of Tiger Woods, is new?
But even Woods is starting to be challenged by his own soaring achievements. Im talking about the moments that immediately followed the sinking of the 31-foot putt on the 72nd hole that snatched the playoff hopes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational from a waiting Bryant and procured for Woods his fifth straight TOUR win and his seventh in his last eight starts.
Yes, Im talking about the celebratory slamming of the hat into the ground nanoseconds after the winning stroke. To be sure, a trademark fist pump followed. But milliners worldwide had to be thinking: Hat abuse. At least Bay Hills host, Palmer himself, had the good grace to fling his chapeau skyward after holing out the winning putt at the 1960 U.S. Open.
What I was thinking Sunday was Tiger needs some new moves. Weve seen this particular hat slam before. And it came from Fred Funk on the 72nd green of the 2005 PLAYERS after Funk sunk the winning putt at Sawgrass.
So, its come to that, folks. Tiger is now stealing style from Fred Funk.
He and his instructor, Hank Haney, are going to have to work on that. Because from my angle, it appears theyve figured everything else out. Replicating Funk is the only flaw I can see at the moment.
And speaking of angles, GOLF CHANNEL will give you Tiger Woods from 360 degrees tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The new show is entitled 360. And it promises a different kind of access to Woods.
Meanwhile, back at the golf tournament ...
Short of, maybe, Tiger vs. Phil in the final round, the best head-to-head match-up Sunday was Woods vs. Singh. And early on at Bay Hill it turned into almost that as two of the other three 54-hole co-leaders, Sean OHair and Bubba Watson, fired and fell back on the front nine Sunday. The third, Bryant, who lives minutes from Bay Hill in nearby Ocoee, was hanging around. He wouldnt go away.
Singh, who has always played well in Palmers event, left several birdie putts on the edges but still found himself just one back of Woods after seven holes. Woods, playing in the final pairing with OHair, two groups behind Singh and Hunter Mahan, birdied the difficult par-3 second and led by one over Singh after five.
It was a brave comeback by defending champion Singh who had suffered a mid-round meltdown on Saturday when he went bogey-double bogey-bogey-bogey starting at the fifth hole to surrender five shots and solo first in four-hole stretch.
But in the end, he needed 31 putts Sunday. And he wound up tied for third at 7-under.
Bryant closed with three pars to stay at 9 under and set the table and the stage for Woods who responded, he said, with his best swing of the week. It was a 5-iron into the final green and into a freshening wind. And it stopped in the middle of the green. The winning putt got him to 10 under.
The rest was more golf history. And it was capped off by a very different kind of Tiger Slam that was, among other things, a little bit funky.
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