MIAMI -- Tiger Woods felt stiffness in his neck from a bad
night of sleep on his boat.
For the first time in 3½ years, he couldn't break par when he
had entered Sunday with the lead. And he played so cautiously on
the final hole of the CA Championship that the outcome was in doubt
for as long as it took a 50-foot par putt to settle a few feet from
In his eyes, it was an ideal way to prepare for the Masters.
"You can't have any better way -- getting a 'W' right before you
go," Woods said after a two-shot victory over Brett Wetterich.
Forget the details and consider the big picture.
He was so dominant at Doral that he didn't have to break par. He
built such a commanding lead on a warm, blustery afternoon that the
smartest play was to hit 3-iron off the tee, 8-iron to lay up and
wedge some 50 feet beyond the cup on the demanding 18th hole.
"It looked easy to him out there today," Wetterich said.
Woods said it was a struggle, but he got the momentum he wanted
heading into the first major of the year. He won his 31st straight
PGA Tour event when leading going into the last round, never
letting anyone closer than four shots until the final three holes.
He closed with a 1-over 73, only the sixth time in his career he
has won by shooting over par in the last round.
"I figured if I shot under par, it would be over," he said.
"Didn't quite get it done, but ended up winning, anyways.''
And everyone knew it.
"If he's not already, he's getting pretty close to being the
best golfer of all time," U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said.
"It's fun watching. He's just a better player.''
They can move this World Golf Championship around country and
continents, change its name and stick it in a different spot on the
calendar. It doesn't matter. Woods still seems to wind up with the
Woods won this event for the sixth time, more than any other
tournament. And while the others are held on courses he owns, Woods
is believed to be the first player to win a tournament six times on
six courses -- in Spain, Ireland, Atlanta, San Francisco, London and
Miami, the latter on a Blue Monster course where he has won the
last three years.
"I love this golf course," he said. "And when it was decided
that we were going to come here, I just through that this was a
wonderful opportunity for me to win the championship.''
He finished at 10-under 278 and earned $1.35 million for his
second victory of the year, and 56th of his career.
"He's good on Bermuda, good in wind, good in no wind, he's good
on bent grass. He's just a good player," Ogilvy said.
Woods won for the 13th time in 24 starts in the World Golf
Championships, and he's 11-of-16 when the WGCs are stroke play.
He kept everyone at least four shots from the lead until
Wetterich made birdie on the 16th to get within three. Wetterich
had birdie putts of 10 feet and 8 feet on the last two holes, but
missed them both.
"That's not good enough if you want to try to beat Tiger,'' Wetterich said.
Equipped with a three-shot lead on the 18th, Woods went
conservative for one of the few times in his career. He hit 3-iron
off the tee on the 465-yard closing hole, laid up with an 8-iron
and took the water out of play -- way out of play -- with a wedge 50
feet above the hole.
A three-putt double bogey and a Wetterich birdie would have
meant a playoff.
Woods, however, found the perfect pace down to tap-in range, and
Wetterich's birdie putt, which he left short, was meaningless.
Wetterich closed with a 71.
Robert Allenby ran off six birdies in his first 14 holes and his
5-under 67 was the best score of the final round, the only drama
was to see would finish second. Allenby wound up in a tie for third
at 6-under 282 with Ogilvy (70) and Sergio Garcia (70), the only
player to break par all for days at Doral.
Garcia bristled when asked if he was embarrassed by spitting
into the cup after missing a putt on Saturday.
"I apologized already," he said. "Are you embarrassed that I
didn't spit today, that you didn't have anything better to ask me?
Woods' victory comes one week after he took two double bogeys
and a triple bogey on his back nine at Bay Hill, and some players
wondered whether those scars would be fresh.
He is 31-1 when leading on the PGA Tour going into the final
round, the loss coming in 1996 Quad City Classic when he was 20 and
playing his third tournament as a professional.
He led by four shots Sunday, and Woods immediately stretched it
with an 18-foot birdie on the opening hole.
But he shoved a 5-foot par putt on the third, then rapped a
50-foot birdie attempt on the next hole some 10 feet past the cup.
Wetterich made his 35-footer for birdie, but Woods poured in his
After another bogey on the sixth, Woods' approach on No. 7
caught the face of the bunker. He blasted out to 5 feet and again
saved par to keep rolling toward victory. Consecutive birdies on
the par-3 ninth and par-5 10th gave him his largest lead of the
round at six, and by then it was matter of finishing the
"I didn't see anyone catching Tiger," Allenby said. "When
he's in front, he's a hard man to beat.''
The CA Championship is the fifth tournament that Woods has won
at least three times in a row, and he has won more times at this
tournament than any other in golf.
Woods has won 27.5 percent of his tournaments, an astounding
rate that even got the savvy Ogilvy doing some quick math.
"He only wins 30 percent of the time he tees it up," Ogilvy
said. "I probably only play 13 or 14 tournaments that he plays in
a year. I've got seven or eight chances he's not going to win. It's
kind of inspiring.''