Tiger Woods won his 70th Tour event by four shots at Sunday’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, silencing skeptics of his ability to continue a streak that has made him the only golfer in history to recorded 70 PGA Tour victories so quickly.
With temperatures in the low 90s and crowds swooning and fanning, Woods blazed from the start. But his strokes started to cool down on the back nine. The 33-year-old made a poor drive into the right side of the rough, which landed him with a bogey at the par-4, 13th, his first bogey in 22 holes. His closest challenger, Padraig Harrington, a 37 year-old Irishman, maintained a good lead and had several good opportunities to remain on top, but his lead started to slip as he failed to take advantage of chances to make birdie throughout the middle of his round. By the time he made it to the 18th green, he was leading by three-shots and optimistic.
Both Woods and Harrington made mistakes on the course. Their facial expressions, captured by television cameras worldwide, left little to the imagination as to how they felt about each errant shot. The two last challenged one another in 2006, during the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.
Fresh from his win at last week’s Buick Open, Woods honed in on the fact that he had previously played the Firestone course. “I think my 65-61 here is not too bad, either,” he said. “But, considering how the golf course was playing — it was playing a little bit trickier on the weekend and I was able to get into some hot little stretches there, some good little streaks, and take advantage of it.”
The tournament was Woods’ second straight and fifth win of the year in only 12 starts. He finished gallantly, coming from behind, with a score of 12-under-par, four better than challengers Harrington and Robert Allenby.
“It was a great battle,” said Harrington, who didn’t make worse than a par until the 16th hole. “I was thoroughly enjoying it all the way through. I’d obviously prefer if he didn’t start as well, but I’d prefer the other player play well and me to play badly at the start if you’re going to make up the shots. You can’t argue.”