Tiger Woods wins at Firestone

Tiger Woods (Courtesy: myophoto)

Tiger Woods (Courtesy: myophoto)

Tiger Woods carried a seven shot advantage into Sunday’s final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and never gave it up, eventually winning by seven over Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley to claim his fifth win of the season.
 
What Happened
 
After a stunning round of 61 on Friday, which you can check out in GIF form here, Woods had a massive lead that would have been difficult to give up for anyone, much less the best player in the world. On Sunday, he was prepared to simply play defense and make someone come and get him. He parred every hole on the front nine, rarely putting himself out of position off the tee and going after the middle of every green. He started his back nine with a birdie, and outside of a three-putt stumble on the 14th, he was all pars on the rest of the way, cruising to an easy victory.
 
Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Tiger Woods -15
  • T2. Henrik Stenson -8
  • T2. Keegan Bradley -8
  • T4. Miguel Angel Jimenez -6
  • T4. Zach Johnson -6
  • T4. Jason Dufner -6

What The Win Means For Woods
 
Woods has always been a fan of classically designed courses like Firestone, and his record clearly shows it, with this win being his eighth at the Akron track. More than any other player, he has managed to take advantage of the courses he loves most, as seen by his win totals at Firestone, Bay Hill, Torrey Pines, Augusta, Doral, Muirfield Village and Cog Hill. The victory gives him 79 PGA Tour wins, which puts him just three behind Sam Snead for the all-time record, and theoretically, puts himself in perfect position for the last major of the year next week at the PGA Championship. More FedEx Cup and world ranking points, over $1 million more to the bank account, etc. Woods is pretty much exempt for life on the PGA Tour, so none of that really matters in the short term, but they are nice perks.
 
Quick Thoughts On The 61
 
I’ve read in recent days that the 61 fired by Woods on Friday was the best round shot in a very long time by any player, but I’m not sure how you can compare different players on different courses, so I won’t be doing that. What I will say is that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Woods look that comfortable on the course, and that includes his previous four wins from this season.
 
A lot of the credit will be given to his putter for the round, and it was white hot, but it was his iron play that allowed him to score. His proximity to hole was around 18 feet on Friday, while the rest of the field averaged over 33 feet. When you’re putting yourself in those kinds of positions, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to score, which is exactly what he did.
 
Golf And Digital Media
 
You know, I’ve touched on this several times before, but it bears repeating again this week. In the year 2013, fans of the game should be able to go somewhere and see the action outside of the standard broadcast window, and the Live At coverage that PGATour.com provides simply isn’t good enough. Featured holes and a featured group does pretty much nothing for people who want to watch if their favourite players aren’t in one of those two sections.
 
Take this week for example when Woods, arguably the most popular athlete in the world, had a morning tee time and wasn’t in the broadcast window. He also wasn’t in the featured group, which seems asinine to me. If the PGA Tour let people know that you could watch all of his shots live on their website, the traffic they would draw would be phenomenal. Just think: if Woods had fired that 61 on Thursday instead of Friday, nobody would have been able to see it.
 
I understand there are several logistic reasons as to why this wouldn’t work for an entire field, but there has to be something that can be done to enhance live coverage of not just Woods and his group, but the other players in the tournament as well.
 
Other Notes

  • Short field, so no cut this week.
  • Notable finishes: Bill Haas (T7), Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer (T9), Steve Stricker (13th), Adam Scott and Webb Simpson (T14), Justin Rose (T17), Ian Poulter (T19), Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Rickie Fowler (T21), Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy (T27), Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson (T33), Angel Cabrera (T38), Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell (T40), Nick Watney and Billy Horschel (T44), Ernie Els and Thorbjorn Olesen (T48), Jason Day and Matteo Manassero (T53).
  • I’ve never seen a tournament in which the pros lipped out this many putts. Firestone’s greens were running at about 13 on the stimp, and it really showed.
  • One thing I will say about Woods this week is that his driver was still a little leaky, and he didn’t really suffer much as a result. Next week at Oak Hill though, if he’s a little offline, he’ll get killed with their thick rough and massive trees that are all over the layout.
  • Rory McIlroy update: Wasn’t shown much on the CBS broadcast, but I saw plenty of him on my European stream. Looked great at some points, but just no consistency. So, we’re still in the same spot that we’ve been in for weeks.
  • Hunter Mahan didn’t end up coming to the event, opting instead to stay with his wife Kandi after the birth of their first child. All indications are that Mahan will be in the field at Oak Hill for the PGA.
  • Louis Oosthuizen didn’t start this week either, having announced on Wednesday that he was taking the next two months off to recover from various injuries to his elbow, wrist, hip and back. Those injuries caused him to withdraw from several events this season, most notably the Open Championship and the U.S. Open. Can I assume that those writers who said he was withdrawing due to poor scores will be issuing a public apology to Oosthuizen? Didn’t think so.
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