Woods romps home at The Grove
Tournament: WGC-American Express Championship
Venue: The Grove, Hertfordshire, England
Winner: Tiger Woods
He could not quite make it four eagles out of four on the 18th and because of two rain delays it took him 7 1/2 hours to get there, but Tiger Woods had no trouble achieving what he principally came to do at The Grove near Watford on Sunday.
One ahead after one round, five in front after two and six clear after three, the world number one eventually completed an astounding sixth consecutive stroke play victory when he won the American Express World Championship by a landslide eight shots.
And that makes it not only nine wins for the year, not only a successful defence of a title he has now lifted five times in seven attempts, but also a staggering 13th World Championship out of 24 he has played. Nobody else has won more than two.
Despite all the successes, however, Woods said straight afterwards that he will still remember 2006 mostly for a loss – that of his father, of course.
After a two-hour thunderstorm delay in mid-round and then another 40 minutes stoppage later on Woods, who this time could “only” birdie the 567-yard last hole, took the £683,778 first prize with a closing 67 for a 23 under par total.
Joint second were England’s Ian Poulter and Australian Adam Scott, both grabbing a closing birdie as well to finish a stroke ahead of Jim Furyk and so earn just over £320,000.
This was the 50th time in his career that Woods had held the lead with a round to go and the 45th time he has gone on to win. Not that there was any likelihood of any other outcome – the biggest lead he has ever lost is two.
For his six wins in a row Woods is a cumulative 109 under par and he has earned almost £3.8million. That works out at over £2,300 for every single shot – more than Jack Nicklaus earned for winning the Open 40 years ago.
“We had it all with the weather today – all we didn’t have was snow,” he commented. “It was just a day of patience and not making any bogeys. I made one, unfortunately.”
It brought a happy conclusion to a three-week trip to Europe which had been in danger of turning into a total flop.
Woods crashed out of the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth in the first round to Shaun Micheel and then, of course, was part of the American team given another record hammering in the Ryder Cup.
Only fair to point out that he did top-score for them with three points out of five, but the two main memories of him were hitting his opening shot into a lake and during the singles caddie Steve Williams slipping and losing his nine-iron in more water.
Now Woods, with over £5.3million for 2006 already, is all set to win the US Tour money list for the seventh time in his 10-year professional career.
As for the European Order of Merit race, Paul Casey still leads despite finishing only 56th out of 60. David Howell needed to be top six to regain top spot, but after standing joint second during the third round he fell away to 13th.
They move on to this week’s Dunhill links championship in Scotland, while after working seven of the last nine weeks Woods cannot wait to get home following his 72nd win.
“I’m looking forward to getting in the water, going diving and getting away from the game for two weeks,” he added. “I’m a little fried.”
He should have had another eagle right at the start of the final round, but after a superlative 224-yard approach to within three feet of the flag on the second he lipped out.
Despite that birdie his lead was trimmed to five when Furyk birdied three of the first four holes, but Woods improved to 21-under with a 12-footer on the fifth and was seven clear when the weather intervened for the first time just before 1pm.
Woods added another birdie at the 351-yard dogleg 10th on the resumption, had only his third bogey of the week at the 12th just after the second stoppage, but added further birdies on the two remaining par fives.
Woods last tasted stroke play defeat on July 9 when he was second to Trevor Immelman at the Western Open in Illinois.
His next outing after that was the Open at Hoylake, which he won by two, followed by the Buick Open by three, the US PGA by five, the Bridgestone Invitational in a play-off with Stewart Cink and then the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he fired a closing 63 to beat Vijay Singh by two.
This latest success came in the week when Byron Nelson, winner of a record 11 US Tour tournaments in a row in 1945, passed away. Woods is over halfway to that now, but even he doubts if it can be achieved.
ALL THE FINAL ROUND SCORES
(Gbr and Ire unless stated, par 71)
261 Tiger Woods (USA) 63 64 67 67
269 Ian Poulter 64 71 68 66, Adam Scott (Aus) 67 68 65 69
270 Jim Furyk (USA) 67 65 69 69
271 Ernie Els (Rsa) 65 70 69 67
273 Stuart Appleby (Aus) 71 66 70 66, Brett Wetterich (USA) 70 66 69 68, Luke Donald 68 70 67 68
274 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 71 67 71 65, Trevor Immelman (RSA) 68 68 68 70, Brett Quigley (USA) 70 64 67 73
275 Arron Oberholser (USA) 69 72 66 68
276 Lucas Glover (USA) 69 68 68 71, David Howell 66 66 71 73, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 68 67 68 73, Stewart Cink (USA) 65 67 70 74
277 Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 66 71 71 69, Jose Maria Olazabal (Spa) 70 67 71 69, Carl Pettersson (Swe) 69 70 67 71, Padraig Harrington 64 69 71 73
279 Robert Karlsson (Swe) 67 76 72 64
280 Johan Edfors (Swe) 70 68 71 71, Chris DiMarco (USA) 69 70 70 71, Michael Campbell (Nzl) 69 71 69 71, Dean Wilson (USA) 71 70 70 69
281 Bart Bryant (USA) 70 74 67 70, Nick O’Hern (Aus) 67 69 75 70, Tim Clark (Rsa) 68 70 73 70, Darren Clarke 68 71 72 70, Robert Allenby (Aus) 69 73 69 70, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 71 70 67 73
282 Lee Westwood 71 66 73 72, Chad Campbell (USA) 67 70 73 72, KJ Choi (Kor) 72 66 73 71, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 71 70 72 69, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 69 73 71 69
283 JJ Henry (USA) 70 70 70 73
284 Simon Dyson 67 69 75 73, Scott Verplank (USA) 70 68 73 73, Rod Pampling (Aus) 70 69 72 73
285 Colin Montgomerie 72 67 69 77, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 73 69 70 73, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 73 67 73 72, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 70 71 73 71
287 Zach Johnson (Swe) 70 71 73 73, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 71 70 75 71, John Bickerton 72 73 75 67
288 Tom Pernice (USA) 69 70 71 78, Tim Herron (USA) 73 69 71 75
289 Tetsuji Hiratsuka (Jpn) 73 69 71 76, Anthony Wall 71 76 68 74, Paul Broadhurst 74 72 70 73
290 David Toms (USA) 73 75 69 73
291 Sean O’Hair (USA) 70 75 71 75, Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 71 71 75 74
292 Vijay Singh (Fij) 73 75 72 72, Paul Casey 74 75 72 71
293 Craig Parry (Aus) 74 74 70 75
297 Toru Taniguchi (Jpn) 73 73 76 75, Gregory Bourdy (Fra) 74 77 71 75
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