March 11, 2013 in Sports

Woods on the march with victory

Associated Press
 

That red shirt is starting to look ruthless on Sunday again.

One year after Tiger Woods hobbled off the TPC Blue Monster course at Doral, he picked up the pace on Sunday in his march to the Masters. Woods delivered two quick birdies to take the drama out of the Cadillac Championship in Florida.

Woods had full control of his game and never let anyone get closer than three shots until he had locked up his 17th World Golf Championship title. With a conservative bogey that didn’t matter on the final hole, he closed with a 1-under 71.

For the first time in five years, Woods has two wins before the Masters. And both of them were dominant.

“That’s how I know I can play,” Woods said. “That’s the thing. To be able to bring it out a couple times so far this year – and then be able to close and get the W’s on top of that – that’s nice. Any time I can win prior to Augusta, it always feels good.”

And to think it was one year ago Sunday that Woods withdrew after 11 holes in the final round at Doral because of tightness in his left Achilles tendon, the same injury that had cost him to sit out most of the previous summer. It created uncertainty about his health and whether he could ever get his game back.

False alarm.

Woods now has five wins in the last year, the most of anyone in the world, and he can return to No. 1 with a win at Bay Hill in two weeks.

He won by two shots over Steve Stricker, who might want to claim a share of this trophy.

Woods ran into Stricker on the putting green Wednesday afternoon, and in a 45-minute session, Stricker helped him with his posture over putts. Woods left feeling as good as he did at Torrey Pines, where he won by four shots. And it showed. Woods made 27 birdies this week, one short of his personal best on the PGA Tour, and he took the fewest putts (100) over 72 holes in any tour event.

“Thank you to Steve for the putting lesson,” Woods said. “It was one of those weeks where I felt pretty good about how I was playing, made a few putts and got it rolling.”

Stricker, playing a part-time schedule, picked up his second runner-up finish in just three starts. He closed with a 68, and had no regrets about offering Woods some help.

“At times you kick yourself,” Stricker said with a laugh. “He’s a good friend. We talk a lot about putting. It’s good to see him playing well.”

“Majors and World Golf Championships are the best because you know you are playing against the best players,” Woods said. “That’s what makes wins like this special. That’s why I love to compete.”

Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, showed signs of recovering from his rough start to the season. He had a 65 and tied for eighth.

Woods finished minus 19 at 269 and earned $1.5 million in winning this World Golf Championship for the seventh time.

Puerto Rico Open

Scott Brown made birdie on the 18th hole to go from a one-shot deficit to a one-shot victory in the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, for his first PGA Tour title.

Brown closed with a 2-under 70. He earned a two-year exemption on tour and a spot in the PGA Championship this summer.

Fabian Gomez of Argentina had a one-shot lead until he went over the green and into a bunker on his third shot, blasted out to 15 feet and missed the par putt. He closed with a 71 and tied for second with Jordan Spieth. The 19-year-old from Texas had a 67.

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