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Friday, 19 March 2010
World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Final Round  (Getty Images)
World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Final Round (Getty Images)

Tiger Woods was in imperious form as he landed the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational for a record seventh time after a titanic battle with Padraig Harrington at Firestone Country Club.

The American finished with a five under par round of 65 to end the week with a 12 under 268 aggregate, four shots better than Harrington and Australian Robert Allenby.

But for much of the day it looked like it would be Harrington, who has re-modelled his swing since landing three Major titles in two years, who would be celebrating his first success of 2009.

“It was a great match, a great battle as I said it would be,” Harrington said. “I was thoroughly enjoying it all the way through, really was enjoying it, really got into it through the end of the front nine all the way through the back nine was particularly. Right in there in the zone, which was very nice.”

Woods added: “I just knew that I had to get off to a quick start somehow, and I was able to do that. Fortunately I was able to keep it going and post a good front nine number.

“But Paddy was just hanging in there, never made a mistake, made a nice birdie at 11, then I made two mistakes right there at 13, 14. Paddy made a great par there at 14 to take the lead, and then until 16 it was just a great battle.”

Woods was at his devastating best as he picked up five shots over his first nine holes at Firestone Country Club to go from three behind Harrington to two in front.

The World Number One wasted little time reducing the deficit on Ireland’s three-time Major winner when they teed off in the final pairing - eagling the par five second while Harrington scrambled to make par.

Consecutive birdies at the fourth and fifth put the American in front for the first time this week and he doubled his advantage with another birdie at the ninth after a delightful approach from the rough.

Harrington was not at his most accurate but battled hard to par all nine holes on the way out to stay in contention.

Harrington proved he was not going to be a pushover like so many of Woods' final round victims of the past when he clawed a shot back at the par four 11th to move to 11 under and the Irishman was soon on level terms.

Woods bogeyed the 13th after missing the green with his second shot and then two putting from 15 feet to fall back into a share of the lead at 11 under with five holes to play.

There was more bad news for Woods at the 14th when he found a left-sided fairway bunker off the tee.

His second went into the rough at the back of a greenside bunker and then he sent his third shot into the sand trap.

Harrington sank his par putt from 14 feet, celebrating with a fist pump while Woods chipped to five feet and took his bogey to fall to ten under as the Irishman edged back in front at 11 under with four to play.

Both men parred the 15th but the tables turned decisively back in Woods' favour at the long par five 16th.

The rivals each missed the fairway off the tee, Harrington to the right and Woods to the left. The American laid up on the fairway but the Irishman found a mound of rough at the front edge of a left-side fairway bunker and sent his next shot into greenside rough.

By that time Woods had produced some magic from 182 yards, his eight iron approach stopping a foot from the hole.

There was more woe for Harrington as his wedge out of the rough hopped onto the green and bounced into the greenside pond and the Dubliner's title bid disappeared with it.

A triple bogey handed Woods a three shot lead with two to play, and Woods went on to secure his 16th WGC title in 30 appearances with a birdie at the last after another mesmerising approach.

“I wasn't unhappy to have missed the fairway right,” Harrington said, speaking about his tee shot at the 16th. “It's not the end of the world. I rushed my second shot chipping it out and didn't hit a good shot and obviously left myself in trouble. I hit a pretty decent third shot. Again, I had an awkward fourth shot.  I had to go after it and probably rushed that a bit, as well - that was the end of that.”

Woods has incredibly landed a World Golf Championships title every year since their inception in 1999, and he becomes the first man in history to win the same European Tour event seven times.

 

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