Woods Wins Fifth Title of the Season


AKRON, Ohio -- Tiger Woods did what he usually does with at least a share of the lead heading into the final round.
Woods shot a 1-over 71 on Sunday, but used a late birdie to win the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational by one stroke. He ended the tournament at 6-under-par 274 for his fifth victory of the year.
It was also the 45th title of Woods' career and the 33rd time in 36 chances that he has gone on to win after owning at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
Tiger Woods
It wasn't all bad for Tiger on Sunday, as he eventually won his fifth title of the season.
Woods has now won a WGC title in seven straight years. He is the first player to win this event four times.
'We need to keep playing more in Ohio. It's that simple,' said Woods, who earned $1.3 million for the victory. 'We don't have enough tournaments here.'
Chris DiMarco, who lost to Woods in a playoff at the Masters this year, finished alone in second place at 5-under-par 275 after a final-round 68.
DiMarco held the outright lead before a bogey at the 17th. He was in the clubhouse with a share of the lead until Woods birdied No. 16 to move ahead for good.
'I'm glad it's over to tell you the truth,' DiMarco acknowledged. 'My stomach was turning out there.'
'He's come close, and I think by coming close and consistently coming close proves a lot, that he's got the game to be there, and it's just a lucky break here or there and it's one shot over a week,' Woods said of DiMarco. 'That's not much.'
Vijay Singh (67) tied for third place at 4-under-par 276 with Ryan Palmer (69) and Paul McGinley, who shot 2-over 72 and owned a share of the lead several times during the final round.
Kenny Perry, who entered the final round tied with Woods, stumbled to a 4-over 74 and finished in a tie for sixth place at minus-3.
Perry led around the turn, but he played the back nine at 4-over par. He and Woods were among several players who needed to finish their third rounds Sunday morning after weather suspended play late on Saturday.
The duo waited nearly six hours before they teed off in the final pairing of the day.
'Boy, what a day,' Woods said.
Perry held a two-stroke advantage over Woods, McGinley and DiMarco around the turn, but things would change quickly.
Woods picked up two strokes at the par-4 10th, where he made an uphill 14- foot birdie putt just before Perry settled for bogey. Ahead at No. 14, DiMarco also birdied to reach 6 under and tie Woods and Perry atop the leaderboard.
The final pairing then fell of the pace -- Woods at the 11th when he bounced his second shot over the green and missed a par putt, and Perry with a bogey at No. 12.
But DiMarco wouldn't hold the lead alone for very long. He found the rough behind the 17th green, pitched over the hole from nine yards away and then two-putted for a bogey to fall to 5 under.
Woods had a chance to take the lead at No. 13, but he clipped the left edge on a 5-foot birdie putt and settled for par to share the lead with DiMarco.
Another threat emerged in McGinley, who birdied the par-5 16th to also reach 5 under, but Woods would soon put all challengers away.
At the par-5 16th, Woods found the rough with a long tee shot and pitched out to leave himself 195 yards to the hole. From there, his third shot landed pin-high and 18 feet from the cup.
Woods then made a good read on the right-to-left putt, rolling the ball into the right side of the cup to reach 6 under for the outright lead.
'That putt -- I've had that putt it seems like for three, four years, and I miss it low every year and always power it 3, 4 feet past the hole,' said Woods. 'I made sure I threw the ball out there a little bit more'
DiMarco watched from the clubhouse as Woods pumped his fist after the putt.
'After Chris posted [5 under], I was just trying to make some birdies somewhere, and luckily I made that putt on 16,' said Woods.
McGinley bogeyed the 17th to fall two strokes off the pace, and it was all but over after that.
Woods found trouble off the 18th tee after slicing his ball into the trees, but he recovered by punching out to the right fringe and putting to within inches to set up par.
He has lost only three times when holding a 54-hole lead -- to Retief Goosen at the 2004 Tour Championship, to Phil Mickelson at the same event four years earlier, and to Ed Fiori at the 1996 Quad City Classic, the first time Woods ever led heading into the final round.
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