But he also displayed a considerable list of intangibles ' his sense of what was working and what was not, his refusal to let the rest of the field get too far away from him, his superior golf intellect. And, lets face it, that mental capacity won this one, played on a tough golf course against a superior opposition. That, and the x factor which goes into just about every victory ' luck.
Wins like this, he said, show what you have inside. Because you don't really have it physically, and you just somehow get yourself to execute a shot properly, somehow find something.
And that's not always easy. But I've done it before, and I've been successful, so I've kept drawing upon my experiences in the past and just trying to hang in there somehow.
Thats the reason why Tiger has 52 wins now in an age when 20 victories are considered a pretty good career. Lee Trevino only had 29, the same as Phil Mickelson does. Vijay Singh has 28. Johnny Miller had 25, Raymond Floyd 22, Lanny Wadkins 21, Hale Irwin 20. Tiger had 20 by the time he was 25 years old, 29 by the time he was 26.
Now, the temptation is always to just look at a players number of victories and judge him on those numbers alone. Im not about to do that ' is it fair to say Cary Middlecoff was twice the player Greg Norman was because Middlecoff had 40 wins to Normans 20? No, of course not. But Woods number of 52 is enough to say something. And 52 says to me that Tiger can beat you when hes playing well (of course), but also when hes got a putter, a brain, and not a whole lot else.
Tiger has now gone to the starting gate 212 times in his PGA TOUR career. And his 52 victories mean he has won at almost a one-in-four clip. Thats an astounding rate when you consider that he almost always plays events in which his competition is the best in the world. He has played almost every year in the Walt Disney tournament because that is only 10 miles from his house. But other than that one, Woods doesnt have any lesser events to fatten up on.
The WGC-Bridgestone rolled out the biggest guns in golf, just as the PGA Championship had the week before and the British Open had in July. Woods has beaten them all, everyone who showed up. He won the British by having an excellent game plan and sticking to it ' regardless. He won the Buick Open and the PGA because he was simply the most talented player in the field ' and he played like it.
But he won the Bridgestone simply because he refused to let anyone else elbow in on his territory. Stewart Cink? Jim Furyk? Paul Casey? Davis Love? Anybody? Nope, not this week, not at this tournament.
I was just trying to get it around somehow and keep myself in the ballgame, he said. Does that sound familiar? There are perhaps 10 of his wins that he has succeeded using similar methods. Ten times minimum when he wasnt swinging the best of anyone in the field ' but he scored the best.
Ive quit comparing the run this year to his out-of-this-world numbers of 1999 and 2000, simply because, while he may not be at the same level of ball-striking ability, hes achieved a new level of mental ability. Forget how well he has hit the ball ' in his best year of 2000, he averaged a phenomenal 67.79 per round. In 2006, hes averaging 68.55, less than one stroke per round difference.
All in all, very lucky, he said of No. 52. Maybe thats true. Maybe he should have been penalized for the shot in the second round which went over the clubhouse, maybe-this and maybe-that but the fact is, you are looking at the champion today who has taken advantage of everything that has been given to him ' and that is the way you string together victories.
Stewart Cink reiterated as much when he paid tribute to Woods after the playoff. Tiger wins when he hits awesome shots, he wins when someone else is hitting the awesome shots, he wins when he has the drive to win and little else.
He's always extremely professional, said Cink, a good guy to play with.
I love playing with Tiger, I love watching him play, I love being in his group on Sunday because it usually means you're right there in the hunt. I can't say enough good things about Tiger Woods. I've been playing with him since I was about 17, and I just relish another opportunity to go against him in another playoff sometime. I think it's the real pinnacle of where our sport is right now.
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