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Woods silences foes at Akron

August 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

In the final event before the final major of the year, Tiger Woods finished off fiery Rory Sabbatini and the rest of the field Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational for an eight-shot victory at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

"This might just give me a little more confidence," Woods said as he left for Southern Hills and the PGA Championship in Tulsa, Okla.

Woods was determined to play the final round without a bogey, and he showed more emotion over saving par with a 12-foot putt on the final hole than any of his birdies in his five-under-par 65. He finished at eight-under 272 and won the tournament for the third year in a row.

After turning a one-shot deficit into a six-shot lead on the front nine, Woods left everyone else playing for second. "I feel like I'm in better shape heading into this one than I do going into the last major," Woods said.

Sabbatini took a step backward. The South African lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship this year, then said Woods looked "beatable as ever."

Woods joined Jack Nicklaus (Augusta National) and Alex Ross (Pinehurst No. 2) as the only players to win six times on the same course.

Sabbatini, who was shaken to the point that he ordered a spectator removed, closed with a 74, just as he did in the final group with Woods at Wachovia. Justin Rose ended up with a 68 that left him tied for second.

Woods essentially won by picking up five shots during a five-hole stretch on the front nine, but the ninth hole was absurd. He hooked his tee shot so far to the left the ball found the rough on the 10th fairway. Then he tried to slice his approach around the trees, only to drop from a branch and hit a 58-year-old woman in the arm, coming to rest in the crook of her arm. After a drop, Woods pitched over the green, then chipped in for par.

Sabbatini took five to reach the green and made double bogey, and as he walked toward the 10th tee, a spectator said: "Hey, Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?"

Sabbatini turned and glared. He barked at a police officer and demanded -- with an obscenity thrown in -- that the fan be taken "out of here."

When Sabbatini was asked whether he would temper his comments in the future, he looked indignant. "Why?" he said. "I hope I inspire him and play well enough that I can give him a good challenge."

Steve Flesch shot an even-par 72 in blustery conditions to hang on for a five-stroke victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open, his third career win on the PGA Tour and first in more than two years.

Flesch, who began the day with the same lead after rounds of 63-69-69, had three birdies and three bogeys to finish at 15-under 273. He missed 10 greens in his first 54 holes, but in the final round hit only three of his first 10 with winds gusting up to 30 mph at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

"I made a few mistakes out there, but it was a tough, windy day," Flesch said. "I just hit it so well I couldn't help but to probably win to be honest with you."

D.A. Weibring birdied the last three holes to overtake Jay Haas and win the Champions Tour's 3M Championship by one stroke at Blaine, Minn. Weibring shot a five-under 67 for a three-day total of 198. Haas shot 63.

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