Tiger Woods continues to bestride the World Golf Championships as if they were his personal fiefdom. A 13th individual WGC title and his sixth success in the CA Championship was sealed under the evening sun in Miami on Sunday and few at Doral Golf Resort & Spa expected anything different.
With the comfort of a four stroke overnight lead, Woods required only a conservative one-over par display on the final day to retain the Gene Sarazen Cup by two strokes from compatriot Brett Wetterich, with Australian Robert Allenby, European Tour Member Sergio Garcia of Spain and Geoff Ogilvy of Australia sharing third place.
In doing so, Woods became the first player to win an official European Tour event on six occasions, having previously won the WGC – CA Championship in 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006, and also the first golfer to triumph in two separate events for three consecutive years, having claimed the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Overall it was his 31st European Tour International Schedule victory in 73 events as a professional – a truly remarkable win-rate of 42.5 per cent.
While these statistics are hastily added to Woods’ ever-increasing CV, the numbers that mattered most in Florida on Sunday were on the leaderboard where the American finished with a four-round aggregate of ten under par 278.
It meant that Woods added to his sizeable fortune with a winner’s cheque for $1,350,000 while Wetterich, who on the same weekend last year had been plying his trade in a Nationwide Tour event, walked off with $800,000.
Against all expectations, Wetterich almost came close to forcing a play-off. Standing on the 13th tee he was six strokes behind Woods, but the World Number One immediately bogeyed and Wetterich capitalised by birdieing the 14th and 16th.
The Blue Monster’s treacherous par four 18th always manages to produce some drama and this time was no different.
With water lurking all the way down the left, Woods played safe by taking a three iron off the tee and then laying up with an eight iron, while Wetterich crashed a 316 yard drive into the middle of the fairway, from where hit his approach onto the sloping green and to within eight feet of the pin.
Now Woods faced a fast-breaking two-putt from 52 feet to be sure of victory and lagged the ball down the hill to inside three feet.
Wetterich was unable to put the pressure on as he left his birdie putt an inch short, gifting Woods the title by two strokes.
"That was probably the driest green on the entire property so I can see how you could run that putt by. I just kept telling myself, 'just lag it down there and trust your speed, trust your stroke and release the blade'.
“Conditions were not easy today and I had to grind it. I had a hard time reading the greens, so it was a struggle. I figured if he makes three then that’s a hell of a three, but five wins for me,” said Woods.
In the end, the final day fireworks were left to Allenby, a four time-winner on The European Tour International Schedule during the 1990s, who made the early running with six birdies in his opening 14 holes. That took the Australian to second place on seven under but at the short, par four 16th he threw away a golden chance of birdie and then missed from nine feet to register his first bogey of the day at the 17th.
Allenby closed with a par on the 18th to sign for a five under par 67 and a share of third place on six under par 282 alongside Garcia and Ogilvy, who both closed in 70.
A stroke further back in sixth place was Swede Niclas Fasth, who enjoyed an impressively steady week with 72-70-70-71, and the Australian duo of Nick O’Hern and Aaron Baddeley, round in 73 and 72 respectively.
England’s Paul Casey closed in level par 72 to take ninth place alongside American Zach Johnson, with a four round total of four under par 284.
Garcia said: “Overall I feel like I played decent. I feel like my short game has improved quite a bit, so I’m happy with that. I’ve just got to keep doing the right things and keep believing in myself and giving myself chances.”
Rather than finding Tiger’s dominance demoralising, Ogilvy, runner-up to Henrik Stenson at last month’s WGC – Accenture World Match Play, said it served as an inspiration to the rest of the field.
“It’s good for us because it makes us try to get better. If he’s not already, he’s pretty close to being the best golfer of all time. I just have to figure out how he does it and do something similar,” added the reigning US Open champion.