Woods erases deficit, beats Singh for fifth win in row

Updated: September 6, 2006, 1:37 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NORTON, Mass. -- Tiger Woods needed only three holes to make it a fair fight.

Before long, it was no contest.

Leaderboard
1. Woods (-16)
2. Singh (-14)
3. Bateman (-8)
T-4. Rose (-7)
T-4. Allenby (-7)
6. Henry (-6)
• Complete scores

Woods made two eagles in his first seven holes to turn a rally into a rout, matching the best final round of his career with an 8-under 63 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday and stretch his PGA Tour winning streak to five tournaments.

It was the first time Woods has won five straight times in one season, and his two-shot victory over Vijay Singh gave him seven titles in only 14 tournaments this year, a staggering victory rate of 50 percent.

About the only thing capable of stopping him right now is the schedule.

Woods is taking next week off.

Longest PGA win streaks
Player Wins Year
Byron Nelson 11 '45
Ben Hogan 6 '48
Tiger Woods 6 '99-00
Tiger Woods 6 '06
Byron Nelson 4 '45-46
Jack Burke Jr. 4 '52
Ben Hogan 4 '53

"It's nice when you get on a roll like this where things are just happening," Woods said.

It all happened so quickly on Labor Day, where thousands of fans crammed behind the ropes to witness what was supposed to be a duel between Woods and Singh, who started the final round with a three-shot lead.

Woods hit a towering 6-iron from 210 yards that carried a swamp and plopped down 10 feet away from the hole for eagle on the par-5 second. Then came a tee shot to 15 feet for birdie on the next hole to give him a share of the lead.

"I just had to run him down as fast as possible, try to at least get him by the time the front nine was over," Woods said. "But I was able to do it within three holes."

Two holes later, he raised the putter in his left hand toward the sunny skies as a 25-foot birdie fell to give him the lead. And his best golf was yet to come.

Singh was helpless, a feeling that is spreading quickly on the PGA Tour.

He didn't do himself any favors by missing four of the first six greens and settling for pars. But even after Singh made a spectacular play of his own, an 87-yard bunker shot on the par-5 seventh that spun back to two feet, Woods made a 10-foot eagle for a two-shot lead.

Tiger's PGA Tour Wins,
Trailing Entering Final Round
Year Event Deficit
2006 Deutsche Bank 3
2006 WGC-NEC 1*
2006 Buick Inv. 1*
2005 WGC-AMEX 2*
2005 Doral 2
2005 Buick Inv. 2
2001 NEC 2*
2001 Memorial 1
2001 Players 2
2000 AT&T P.B. 5
1999 AMEX 1*
1996 Las Vegas 4*
1996 Disney 1
* - Won in playoff

And after two more birdie putts on the back nine that crushed Singh's spirits, Woods was hoisting yet another trophy.

"Tiger played unbelievable," Singh said. "He made two eagles and just took it away."

The streak started in July at the British Open, when Woods won for the first time since his father died in May. The tears flowed freely that afternoon in Hoylake as he coped with the realization that Earl Woods would never see him win another tournament.

The victories haven't stopped.

There were four rounds of 66 at the Buick Open, followed by a putting exhibition at Medinah that carried him to a five-shot victory in the PGA Championship for his 12th career major. Then came his 11th title in the World Golf Championships at Firestone, winning a four-hole playoff against Stewart Cink.

Trophies are coming in all shapes and sizes, and they are piling up quickly.

Byron Nelson won 11 straight tournaments in 1945, a streak regarded as one of the most untouchable in sports. Woods won four straight at the end of 1999 and his first two in 2000 for six in a row, tied with Ben Hogan in 1948 for the second-longest winning streak.

His next PGA Tour event will be the American Express Championship outside London the last week of September.

Career PGA Tour wins leaders
Rank Player Wins
1 Sam Snead 82
2 Jack Nicklaus 73
3 Ben Hogan 64
4 Arnold Palmer 62
5 Tiger Woods 54
6 Byron Nelson 52
7 Billy Casper 51
8 Walter Hagen 44
9 Cary Middlecoff 40
T-10 Gene Sarazen 39
T-10 Tom Watson 39

"You've got to have so many things go right," Woods said. "In this day and age, with this competition, to win 11 in a row would be almost unheard of. What Byron accomplished, that goes down as one of the great years in the history of our sport. You've got to have one bad week somewhere. I guess his bad week was a win."

Can the record be reached?

"If a lot of guys pull out," Woods said with a laugh.

On Monday, Singh was on the wrong side of history. Since 1980 a player has had a three-stroke lead going into the final round and shot 3-under par or better and lost only two other times, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Pete Jordan entered the final round of the 54-hole 1996 B.C. Open with a three-stroke lead, shot 66 (-5) and lost in a playoff to Fred Funk who shot 63 (-8) in the final round. Mark Calcavecchia entered the final round of the 90-hole 1997 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with a three stroke lead, shot 67 (-5) and lost to John Cook who shot 63 (-9) in the final round.

Woods now takes a week off before heading to England for the HSBC World Match Play Championship, followed by the Ryder Cup and the American Express, where he is the defending champion.

He still isn't even halfway home to Nelson's hallowed mark, but he surpassed Lord Byron in one category.

Woods won for the 53rd time in his career, moving into fifth place alone on the career list. He finished at 16-under 268 and earned $990,000, pushing his season total to over $8.6 million.

Brian Bateman closed with a 66 to finish third at 8-under 276, eight shots behind Woods.

It was a two-man race between Woods and Singh, the duel everyone wanted. Two years ago, Singh and Woods went toe-to-toe in the final group with the Fijian winning by three to end Woods' five-year reign atop the world ranking.

No one expected such a sudden role reversal, especially with Singh coming off a career-best 61.

"Vijay played one of the great rounds of golf yesterday," Woods said. "I figured one of the hardest things to do is follow a great round with another one."

This time, it was Woods who fired at the flags and never took his foot off the gas until he settled for par on the last hole for a 63.

Woods twice shot 63 in the final round at the Byron Nelson Championship and once at Disney, but this was his lowest final round in a tournament that he won.

It was also his largest comeback in the final round since he overcame a five-shot deficit at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2000, which he won for his sixth straight victory. Woods made up seven shots over his final seven holes.

This rally came early, and it was spectacular.

After missing a six-foot birdie putt on the opening hole, Woods hammered his driver over the bunkers, leaving him a 7-iron into the green on the par-5 second hole and making the eagle. He covered the flag with his next shot on the par-3 third, making a 15-foot birdie putt to tie Singh for the lead. And when he rolled in a 25-footer on the fifth, Woods was in the lead.

Justin Rose started the day tied with Woods, and imagine his disgust when he saw the leaderboard.

"I was 4-over through five holes, he was 4-under through five," Rose said. "Obviously, it was game over for me."

Singh didn't go away that easily.

Woods' second eagle was better than the first one. From 266 yards away and the wind in his face, he hit a bullet of a 3-wood that never got more than 15 feet off the ground. It pounded the bank fronting the green and climbed up to 10 feet.

Singh followed with his great bunker shot, and there was a chance he would escape without losing a shot.

"He hits a great shot," Woods said. "So if I make my putt, I take all his momentum away from him. And I knocked it right in there."

Woods turned toward his caddie and lightly pumped his fist, although Steve Williams was far more animated, shaking his fist twice. It was a big putt, giving Woods a two-shot margin, making it that much more difficult for Singh to recover.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.