Thursday 14 December 2017

Woods: Now for the Major

Tiger in confident mood ahead of USPGA at Oak Hill

Tiger Woods after winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty
Tiger Woods after winning the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty

TIGER WOODS today turned his attention to his quest for an elusive 15th major title after cruising to an eighth WGC Bridgestone Invitational and 79th PGA Tour victory of his career.

Woods carded a closing level-par 70 at Firestone Country Club to win by seven shots and move within three victories of Sam Snead's record of 82.

And the world number one would love nothing more than securing win number 80 in this week's USPGA Championship at Oak Hill, more than five years since his last major success in the 2008 US Open.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Woods said.

"I feel like my game is pretty consistent. That's one of the things I've noticed this year is that I have hit it pretty good most of the year and weeks I've putted well I've been able to win so it's been pretty good so far."

At 15 under par, Woods finished seven shots clear of defending champion Keegan Bradley and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, his 18th win in 42 World Golf Championship events giving him the first prize of $1.4million (€1.05m) and taking his career earnings in WGC tournaments to more than $25million (€19m).

"I don't know what it is, it just fits my eye," the 37-year-old said of his record at Firestone. "For some reason it just comes out and I have put it together.

"Today I was conservative. I figured the highest score I could shoot was 70 and that would force the guys to shoot 63 or 62 and I just felt this was a perfect day to protect."

Woods carded just one birdie and one bogey in the final round, opening with nine straight pars before holing from seven feet on the 10th. His sole dropped shot came when he three-putted the 14th.

Bradley set the nominal clubhouse target with a closing 67, while Stenson matched the 70 of playing partner Woods with 16 pars, one bogey and a crucial birdie on the 17th.



Shane Lowry was most satisfied by far of the three Irish players in action even if he finished 48th and behind Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

McIlroy's hopes of hauling himself out of a form slump for the second year in succession at Firestone to give himself an adrenaline shot before this week's defence of his USPGA title went unfulfilled. A final-round 72 left the 24-year-old world No 3 tied 27th on two-over, a tepid conclusion following his encouraging one-under 69 on Saturday.

Lowry was magnificent down that finishing stretch, boosting his confidence going into his fourth major and second PGA Championship with a hat-trick of birdies on 15, 16 and 17 for a one-under-par 69.

Not bad, considering he bogeyed two of the first three holes including a three-putt on the third, where Lowry missed from four feet for par. No such problems for the Clara man at the finish as he holed-out from 18 yards off the green at 15 and sank 18-footers at the next two holes.

Wallowing at eight-over after Friday's 76, Lowry was delighted to report on Twitter after his final round: "Decent day ... Shot -1 and my GAA bets came in."

Graeme McDowell seemed to set himself up for a storming finish with sweet birdies on the first two holes. Yet after five bogeys in six holes to the turn, four of them out of bunkers, he did well to shoot a two-over 72.

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