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Woods gets right for Masters

March 26, 2007|From the Associated Press

Tiger Woods felt stiffness in his neck from a bad night of sleep on his boat.

For the first time in 3 1/2 years, he couldn't break par when he entered Sunday with the lead. And he played so cautiously on the final hole of the CA Championship at Miami that the outcome was in doubt for as long as it took a 50-foot par putt to settle a few feet from the cup.

In his eyes, it was an ideal way to prepare for the Masters, which starts April 5.

"You can't have any better way -- getting a 'W' right before you go," Woods said after a two-shot victory over Brett Wetterich.

He was so dominant that he didn't have to break par.

"It looked easy to him out there today," Wetterich said.

Woods said it was a struggle, but he got the momentum he wanted heading into the first major of the year. He won his 31st straight PGA Tour event when leading going into the last round, never letting anyone closer than four shots until the final three holes.

He closed with a one-over 73, only the sixth time in his career he has won by shooting over par in the last round.

"I figured if I shot under par, it would be over," he said. "Didn't quite get it done, but ended up winning, anyways."

And everyone knew it.

"If he's not already, he's getting pretty close to being the best golfer of all time," U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. "It's fun watching. He's just a better player."

They can move this World Golf Championship around the country and continents, change its name and stick it in a different spot on the calendar. It doesn't matter. Woods still seems to wind up with the trophy.

He won this event for the sixth time, more than any other tournament.

He is believed to be the first player to win a tournament six times on six courses -- in Spain, Ireland, Atlanta, San Francisco, London and Miami, the latter on a Blue Monster course where he has won the last three years.

"I love this golf course," he said. "And when it was decided that we were going to come here, I just thought that this was a wonderful opportunity for me to win the championship."

He finished at 10-under 278 and earned $1.35 million for his second victory of the year, and 56th of his career.

"He's good on Bermuda, good in wind, good in no wind, he's good on bent grass," Ogilvy said.

Woods won for the 13th time in 24 starts in the World Golf Championships, and he's 11 of 16 when the WGCs are stroke play.

He kept everyone at least four shots from the lead until Wetterich made birdie on the 16th to get within three. Wetterich had birdie putts of 10 feet and eight feet on the last two holes, but missed them both.

"That's not good enough if you want to try to beat Tiger," Wetterich said.

Equipped with a three-shot lead on the 18th, Woods went conservative for one of the few times in his career.

He hit three-iron off the tee on the 465-yard closing hole, laid up with an eight-iron and took the water out of play -- way out of play -- with a wedge 50 feet above the hole.

A three-putt double bogey and a Wetterich birdie would have meant a playoff.

Woods, however, found the perfect pace down to tap-in range, and Wetterich's birdie putt, which he left short, was meaningless. Wetterich closed with a 71.

Robert Allenby ran off six birdies in his first 14 holes and his five-under 67 was the best score of the final round.

Allenby finished in a tie for third at six-under 282 with Ogilvy (70) and Sergio Garcia (70), the only player to break par all four days.


Lorena Ochoa blew a four-stroke lead to Suzann Pettersen, then birdied four of the last five holes for a two-stroke victory in the Safeway International at Superstition Mountain, Ariz.

Ochoa shot a four-under 68 to rally past Pettersen (66).

Ochoa blew a four-shot lead in the final round for the second time in three years at this tournament. But this time she survived, overtaking Norway's Pettersen with birdies on the 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th holes.

Ochoa, the tour's reigning player of the year, finished at 18 under and earned $225,000 in her 10th LPGA Tour victory.

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