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Tiger Loses but Wins Big

Tavistock CupORLANDO, Fla. ' Nobody threw anyones ball into the lake on Tuesday. Nobody wrestled on the 18th green. The yucks were minimal, laughs were stifled; the smiles not nearly as present.
It was a little more business-like at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club on Day 2 of the Tavistock Cup. Thats what happens when $500,000 is up for grabs ' for just one person.
As much as it might seem like a typo, that is not a misprint: there are indeed five zeros behind the No. 5.
The tournament itself was pretty much over after Day 1. The home team blanked the visiting Isleworth Country Club squad, 10-0, to give them a commanding advantage.
The lead proved to be insurmountable as Lake Nona claimed their first Cup in four tries, 22-8.
With the overall result never in doubt, the main point of interest was to see who would win the 500K race and the Payne Stewart Salver award.
Every single one of these guys may be millionaires ' some much more so than others ' but its absolutely, physiologically impossible for anyone, no matter how rich they might be, not to care about winning a half-million dollars.
When on-course reporter David Feherty asked Tiger Woods during his round if $500,000 still meant something to him, Tiger got tongue-tied. He chuckled and ultimately said that he was just trying to win some points. But you know that he cared about winning points as much as I care about who is Anna Nicole Smiths babys daddy.
For all of the extravagant prizes on offer in this exclusive and lucrative and very charitable event ' Cadillac Escalades, Air Nautique boats, Cartier Jewelry, Panasonic Home Theaters ' there is nothing like winning cold, hard cash.
With so much on offer, Tuesdays action felt more like the final round of a tightly contested PGA TOUR event than that of a runaway hit-and-giggle fest. And why not: the low scorer in this made-for-TV event was going to get 200 grand more than the champion of this weeks Kraft Nabisco, an LPGA Tour major.
Lake Nonas Justin Rose got the first big jump out of the blocks. Playing in the third of the five groups out, he birdied the par-4 first and then jarred his third shot from the fairway for eagle on the par-5 second. Two more birdies and one more eagle later and he had a tidy little 7-under 29, good enough for a two-stroke advantage over Graeme McDowell.
Did we mention that this had the feeling of a final round TOUR event?
Rose has led six times on TOUR after 36 holes and three times after 54 holes, but never after 72.
And he couldnt close this one out either.
Rose could only muster a 1-over 37 on the back side, leaving him alone in second place. Well, not totally alone. He did get $300,000 to keep him company.
Three-hundred grand for playing 18 holes and not winning ' get your kids to David Leadbetter immediately.
Individual honors actually came down to McDowell and Woods.
Now we all know that Tiger needs $500,000 like we need a paper cut; but that matters little to him. Tiger loves to win. He loves making money almost as much.
He caught the scent of cash around the turn, birdying seven consecutive holes starting at the par-4 eighth. By the time he rolled in a 3-footer at the short par-4 14th, he was one up on the Irishman.
I think that weve already mentioned that this had the feel of a final round TOUR event. And what usually happens when Tiger leads down the stretch of a TOUR event? He makes pars, others make bogeys, and he wins comfortably.
Woods parred his final four holes for an 8-under 64 and 500 large. McDowell finished bogey-bogey to share third place.
It was, by the way, the third time in three tries that Tiger has claimed medalist honors in this event. In the trophy presentation, there was actually no physical trophy to present to Tiger.
He just threw up his hands and smiled. We'll assume that he won't be that forgiving if a check doesn't come his way.
And so, Tiger wins as an individual, but loses as a team member. Theres symbolism in there somewhere.
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