Tiger Woods wins Championship at Doral

Tiger Woods had gone more than three years without a World Golf Championship. He had no trouble remembering the drill.
He sat at a table with the blue Gene Sarazen Cup trophy, he has six just like it at home, and signed a stack of flags for posterity and charity after a two-shot win that was never in question during the final two hours on the Blue Monster at Doral.
Woods entertained a few questions about his new 5-wood, how his performance stacked up with a four-shot win in January at Torrey Pines and whether he thought Rory McIlroy, now overlooked as the Number 1 player in the world, was on the right track.
“Can the Masters get here soon enough?” someone else asked.
It was the only question Woods ignored.

Tiger Woods wins Championship at Doral
Tiger Woods.

On the second hole Sunday at the Blue Monster, Tiger Woods drained a 19-foot putt for birdie. When at last the applause died down, Graeme McDowell stood over a 7-footer for birdie that suddenly looked twice as long. He rolled it in to remain three strokes behind Woods, and as he walked off the green, he made eye contact with a friend and said: “We’re not playing for second place here.”
McDowell’s mettle was moving, albeit misplaced. McDowell, who opened with a birdie, could be forgiven for believing that pluck could pull him through in a final-round duel against Woods. At the 2010 World Challenge, McDowell came from four strokes back, the same deficit he faced at Sunday’s start, to tie Woods, whom he then dispatched in a playoff.
But the Woods he beat then was not the same player who grabbed a share of the lead in the first round of the Cadillac Championship and held onto it like a guard dog to a pant leg. After four years of rehabilitating injuries and then his swing, Woods is playing – and especially putting — like the player who averaged six tour titles a season in the three years before McDowell turned professional in 2002.
With a closing one-under-par 71, Woods claimed his 76th PGA Tour title, and his first World Golf Championships event since 2009. At 19-under 269 – Woods finished two strokes ahead of Steve Stricker, who posted a 68.
Five strokes back, in a four-way tie for third, were Sergio Garcia (69), Phil Mickelson (71), McDowell (72) and Adam Scott, whose final-round 64 was the low score of the week.

A golfer is never really satisfied, but to find fault with Tiger Woods’ game now all but means perfection is expected in a game that never allows it.
Sure, Woods made a sloppy bogey at the final hole to win by 2 shots – the closest anyone got to him Sunday – and he could hit a few more fairways and maybe he needs to figure out a way to climb up the occasional tree when his ball comes to rest in one.
But his performance at the Trump Doral Resort this week in winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship was simply his best since the fourth major overhaul of his swing began under Sean Foley in August of 2010.
That doesn’t mean he will win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks or the Masters next month; the game is too fickle, too unpredictable, too maddening to make those kinds of assumptions. But it is impressive nonetheless.
His caddie, Joe LaCava, said this was Woods’ best 72-hole performance since hooking up with him in October 2011. Woods took only 100 putts, the lowest total in his PGA Tour career. His 27 birdies were just one short of the most he has ever made in an event.
He won for the fifth time in 50 weeks, the second time in 2013 and narrowed the gap on No. 1 Rory McIlroy in the Official World Golf Rankings.
And let’s not get into the most ridiculous question in golf: Is he back?
Back to what? Woods is 37. And while he admirably talks about trying to be better than ever and is wired in a way that elite performers must be, those mortals among us must realistically acknowledge that such comparisons are unfair.
Who, in sports, is better at age 37 than 27? Do we really think he is going to duplicate the feats of 2000, when he won three majors (something accomplished only once prior in the game’s modern history)? And are we going to call him a failure if he doesn’t?
And yet, Woods might again be the best in the world.
“He’s been playing like this for quite some time” – acknowledged longtime rival Phil Mickelson, who tried to make a run at Doral but finished 5 strokes back in a tie for third. “All last year and this year now. He’s pretty strong. Playing at a pretty high level week in and week out it seems like.

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