American Tiger Woods lapped the field, one of the best in golf, on his way to comfortably winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone South in Akron, Ohio, on Sunday. Woods cruised as he posted 15-under-par 265 to defeat fellow American Keegan Bradley and Swede Henrik Stenson by seven shots. Americans Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner along with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiminez tied for fourth another shot back.
This golf tournament was all over but the shouting after Woods played an immaculate 13 holes on Friday and set the pace at 13-under. His final five holes that afternoon were just par golf but that’s all he would need to enter the weekend ahead by seven shots. In his first two rounds, Woods racked up 13 birdies and an eagle and just found time for two bogeys so the writing was on the wall. He finished the week with 19 birdies to lead the field. It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise as Woods has mopped the field up plenty of times around this track. When Woods hasn’t closed the deal on weekends in the recent past, it has been the putter that is the usual suspect. This week, his game was firing on all cylinders has he finished the week T11 in driving accuracy, second in GIR, fifth in putts per GIR and 11th in strokes gained-putting. Just to put a cherry on top, he was also perfect getting up-and-down from greenside bunkers. When he plays like this on this course, nobody is beating him, period.
Gamers, Woods now has five wins on the season and four of them have come on courses where he had won seven previous times. Gamers, you were given four chances this year to pick up on this trend and I hope, like I did, that you chose this week for your own personal “Glory’s Last Stand” in the one-and-done world. Sometimes, there’s just no point over-thinking it, whether it’s Yahoo! or OADs and this AGAIN was proof of that theory. Woods plays great on a handful of courses so go get your crayon and circle these events for next year. Strategy was a strength, not disaster.
As Nick Faldo mentioned on the telecast and Paul Azinger opined on Twitter, Firestone South is an excellent warm-up for Oak Hill next week at the PGA Championship. Plenty of difficult tee shots and shots into elevated greens will be on the docket so Woods should be licking his chops for his first major since 2008. The best part of next week will be NOT having to worry about the question “should I use him or not” in reference to Woods in OAD games. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s better.
With this victory, Woods collects $1,500,000 and 550 FedExCup points.
Déjà vu All Over Again?
Tiger Woods has now won this event on this course a staggering eight times.
Woods now has 18 WGC victories in his career in 42 starts.
His victory total of 79 now trails Sam Snead by just three to tie and four to surpass. The only question will be can he do it THIS year or will it come next year at Bay Hill. Stay tuned.
He’s now won 20 events leading into a major in his career. Sure he doesn’t play the week before all of them, but it’s good preparation to have won your previous tournament before teeing it up, right? Right. He’s won four majors after winning in his previous event. He’s looking for No. 5 at Oak Hill.
This is the 10th season that he’s won five or more times on TOUR. Think about that for a few minutes.
He’s now 42-2 when holding the outright 54-hole lead on TOUR. #frontrunner
Woods is the last player to win on TOUR the week before a major. He won this event in 2007 before winning the PGA the following week. Remember, Mickelson’s victory at the Scottish Open was a EUROPEAN Tour event but a great feat nonetheless.
Friday’s 61 was Woods’ first bogey-free round since the 2012 BMW. He’s won FIVE times this year and this is his first bogey-free round. Got that?
There have been 34 tournaments this season and the USA has won 28 of them.
There have been 11 first-time winners this season and just four players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker).
Now, 15 of the 54-hole leaders or co-leaders have gone on to win the 32, full-field, stroke-play events on the season as Woods and Gary Woodland converted their 54-hole leads (or co-lead).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FIVE times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32) TWICE, Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49), Woodland (29) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 13 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 16 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) now have FIVE wins. The Mechanic was smoking this week as he racked up T4 for the “old” folks.
A look at the players who finished in the top 10
Henrik Stenson: Wash, rinse, repeat as the Swede must think that this is 2010 again. Forget about ANY recent course history for this guy as he’s just flat-out raking it right now. He’s now 11-for-13 on the year and his T2 this week is his third of the season. He finished T3 at the Scottish Open, T2 at Muirfield and T2 this week. Those are his last three starts on TOUR. Cha-ching! His formula is quite simple: Hit every fairway and every green and make a few putts here and there. He’s proven his worth on bomb-and-gouge courses like Bay Hill and Redstone while dissecting Muirfield and the Scottish Open just like he did at THE PLAYERS in 2010. I forgot to mention that he was T18 at the Masters, T5 at THE PLAYERS and T21 at the U.S. Open this season.
Keegan Bradley: For a guy who has teed it up just three times at Firestone South Bradley looks like he grew up on this course. After finishing T15 on his maiden, he backed it up with a victory last year. Now throw in this year’s T2 in his title defense and he joins Woods in the “horse-for-course” stable in Akron. Bradley adds this finish to his solo second at HPBNC (another “horse-for-course”) and now has seven top 10s on the season. His 70-71 (T15) weekend at The Open got his momentum going in the right direction and now he’s entering the time of year when he’s made plenty of noise in the past. If you’re wondering how he might shape up next week at Oak Hill, remember he lead the field in GIR and was T11 in driving accuracy. Oh, and he was sixth in strokes gained-putting.
Zach Johnson: Speaking of heating up at the right time, Johnson has finished his last three events P2 (JDC), T6 (The Open) and T4 this weekend in Ohio. Before July started he had accumulated exactly ONE top 10 in 2013 in 16 events. He led the field in driving accuracy and was 12th in GIR. His putter is heating up as well as he was fifth in strokes gained-putting. Lee Trevino endorsed him as a player to watch earlier this week. After those three consecutive results, I tend to see where The Merry Mex is coming from in his analysis. For the record, Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open on that course so he does have just a bit of perspective on the matter. I was pleasantly surprised to notice I have not burned him in OAD this year. I might have my pick for the PGA staring me in the face on Sunday evening.
Miguel Angel Jiminez: The Mechanic banged his third top five in his last five starts this week at the WGC-BI. After a hot start to The Open Championship he couldn’t back it up on the weekend and fell to T13. After a 71 on Thursday, he fired 69-65-69 to rack up T4 this week. Not bad for a 49-year-old! The reason he works for gamers is he can hit most fairways and has no problem grinding out pars. Plus, he’s in pretty solid form as noted above.
Jason Dufner: I thought his 67 in the final round at Muirfield would put a little pep in his step as the season races for the FedExCup Playoffs and Dufner backed that up this week. He played his final three rounds of the week in seven-under and returns to the top 10 for only the second time this season (T4, U.S. Open). It didn’t hurt that he racked up the T3 most birdies and that was due to his solid ball-striking, his calling card. He’s now closed Merion, Muirfield and Firestone South with 67s on Sunday. Stir that around for a minute if you’re hesitating using him down the stretch!
Bill Haas: Each week there seems to be someone other than Henrik Stenson that continues to prove the theory of current form > course history. Where I think both should be taken into account, hot golf is hot golf, period. Haas was just one shot out of the first flight after Friday but his even-par weekend saw him drop to T7. Oh well. It’s only his ninth top 10 in 19 events this season. I remarked that he’s the American version of Graeme McDowell recently and he continued that streak again this week. Since May 1 he’s finished MC, MC, T4, MC, WIN, T9, MC and T7 this week. He won the FedExCup Championship two years ago so I doubt he’ll be bothered with all the hoopla down the stretch. He made seven bogeys (T3) and 53 pars this week. That should get your attention for Oak Hill.
Chris Wood: His last finish of note was back in the middle of May when he made the quarterfinals of the Volvo World Match Play Championship. In his four events following his best finish was T57 at the Scottish Open so if you have Wood circled this week, bravo for you. His victory this season came in January at the Qatar Masters so that makes it three top 10s in 12 events but no other top 25s. #allornothingpartIII
Martin Kaymer: The German needed this T9 finish this week to gain some valuable FedExCup points as he entered the week No. 131 on the list. He now hits the top 10 for the third time in 13 events but the interesting fact is that two of those finishes are WGC events, Match Play and this week’s event. He hasn’t finished better than T32 in the majors but the 2010 PGA Champion has shown that he knows what it takes to win on a difficult course (Whistling Straits in a playoff). As for most guys playing on TOUR for the first time it’s usually more struggle than success, even for a major champion. His successes this season were on a difficult HPBNC par-70 track in Dallas and now this week in Akron where he was one of four players to post 66, the low round of the day, on Sunday. He was T5 in driving accuracy, T7 in GIR and 13th in strokes gained-putting. Well, then…
Jim Furyk: Back-to-back weeks in the top 10 (T9) for the first time since THE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP and The McGladrey late last season so even Paul H will have to take notice. When you think of Furyk, you think of grit and toughness and he’s showing that by not mailing in the rest of his season. He remarked on the radio that he’s found some confidence after his final three rounds last week were under par in Canada. The issue with Furyk is not his ball-striking (T3 driving accuracy; third in GIR) but rather if his putter can cooperate. This week he racked up 52 pars and only eight bogeys on a course where he ALWAYS* hits the top 10! It’s now NINE top 10s in 14 starts. When course history meets recent form…*almost EVERY year. He’s peaking at the right time as well as this top 10 will help push him towards the magical No. 30 position that everyone is chasing.
Richard Sterne: In two previous tournaments in Akron, Sterne never broke par. This week, the South African fired 70-68-70-68 to hit the board at T9. This top 10 goes along with his solo second in France from the first week in July and T31 at the Scottish Open and T21 at The Open so one could have seen this coming. Sterne is currently No. 4 in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and is No. 34 (and climbing) in the OWGR. In February he was second at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and backed that finish up with a victory at the Joburg Open. In three WGC events this season he’s finished T17 at Match Play, T12 at the Cadillac Championship and now T9. Time to take a broader view, gamers, as he now has 10 top 25s in 2013!
Luke Donald: There was no chance of him missing his third consecutive cut this week but his history at this course should have made you take a look. With his T9 this year, Donald now has finishes of T8 last year and T2 in 2011. As Woods mentioned, some courses just make players comfortable and their games just take over. Donald made just one less birdie than Woods (18, T2) for the week but made four bogeys in his last 10 holes to drop out of a tie for second. His putter was the reason he was contending as he was seventh in strokes gained-putting and third in putts per GIR. Add him to your horse-for-course stable at Firestone, please, but buyer beware next week at Oak Hill.
“Hey, what ever happened to…”
I take a look back at what happened to my chalk
Phil Mickelson: Well, it had to end sometime and it’s not a surprise that it happened on a course where he’s had one top 10 in the last 10 years. Or, just two top 25s in that same time frame. His T21 was his second-best finish in 11 years. I believe Mickelson, who was 16 shots back heading into the weekend, was using these final rounds to tune his game up for a chance to go back-to-back in major championships. There’s not much missing from his fantastic resume but going back-to-back AND completing the career grand slam on the same Sunday should have his full attention. He putted it well this week but his ball-striking was off. Let’s see if he puts a driver in the bag next week on a 7,100 yard course or if he goes five wedges again. If it ain’t broke…
Justin Rose: He remarked via Twitter this afternoon that he didn’t want to use Firestone as a warm-up but it was just what he needed, four rounds on a tough track. He should be happy that he was under par in three of the four rounds 69-72-69-69 as he finished T17. He’s already mastered one tough track this year to win the U.S. Open so this result does nothing to put me off next week.
Brandt Snedeker: After winning last week in Canada Sneds didn’t crack par this week to finish T33, his first finish in five outside the top 17. His T33 equals his best result on Firestone South so we shouldn’t be too surprised. He’s hit the top 17 in all three majors this season and I don’t see that streak coming to an end next week.
Matt Kuchar: He broke a three-year run of T19 or better with a T27 this year. His ball-striking was solid but his putter let him down when trying to convert birdie chances. He finished the week with only eight bogeys and 55 pars (T2) so that tells me he’s right on the cusp for the PGA.
Adam Scott: Another solid week around Firestone saw him finish T14 and just two shots out of the top 10. He had a decent week across the board and will be one of the favorites, again, next week at Oak Hill.
Charl Schwartzel: After opening 74-74 he pulled another low one out on the South Course (64) on Saturday and backed that up with 69 on Sunday to rally to T21. He made 10 birdies against three bogeys on the weekend so it looks that he’s righted the ship. His T21 is his best posting in four events at WGC-BI.
Lee Westwood: Ian Baker-Finch must have been too busy in the CBS booth this weekend as Westwood found his ball-striking again but his putter and short game didn’t make it through customs. He was 72nd in both putting categories. There were 73 players involved this week. He was 68th in sand saves. The good news is he was T8 in driving accuracy and T7 GIR.
Steve Stricker: Ah, the information age…As we discussed during our live chat, it was reported that Stricker had a hamstring issue leading into this event. You were in one of two camps: Ditch him or play him. He finished 13th so bravo if you did! In his last five starts at Firestone, he’s now finished T6, T9, 14th and 13th this year. Say it with me, horse-for-course!
Dustin Johnson: He didn’t have it ball-striking or putting but he found two good rounds, 69 on Friday and 67 on Sunday that will make the trip to Oak Hill a little easier. He’s a mega-talent that is currently driving gamers crazy but I still believe he’s a threat anytime he tees it up but at Firestone his best finish is still T22.
American Gary Woodland held on to win the Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club for his first victory of 2013 and second of his career. With this victory, Woodland qualifies for the PGA Championship and receives a two-year exemption on TOUR. And he gets to go to the Masters so he has that going for him, which is nice. With this victory, Woodland wins $540,000 and 300 FedExCup points.
Entering the week, Woodland had exactly one top 10 in his last 50 starts on TOUR. His last top 10 was in the summer of 2011 at The Greenbrier (T4). In 2013 Woodland hasn’t had any problems making cuts, now 17 of 21, but he only found the top 25 four times. After his break-out season in 2011 where he won and finished second twice to finish 10th in the FedExCup standings, injuries and uneven play have frustrated gamers week in and week out. Now that the breakthrough has occurred, I’ll have to put him back on the radar. Heading into this week, Woodland was No. 116 in the FedExCup standings. He’ll move on up this week, around No. 50, and that will almost guarantee him the first two Playoff events. The PGA TOUR: Where one week can change everything.
Americans have now won every event at Reno-Tahoe, 15-for-15.
Woodland becomes the sixth player of 15 in their 20s (29) to lift the trophy.
Jonathan Byrd: He’s now made five cuts in 15 events as he’s playing himself back into shape after off-season wrist surgery. His T2 moves him from No. 189 to No. 155 so with another big finish at Wyndham he could sneak in the back door. Gamers knew this season would be a rehab assignment for Byrd and it looks like he’s starting to move in the right direction.
Andres Romero: His T2 finish sees him move from No. 136 to No. 110 and all but guarantee a spot in the first Playoff event. This was his sixth weekend in a row without hearing the trunk slam but just his first top 10 since early March. Romero was third here last year in his first try and improved on that this season! #circledfor2014
Brendan Steele: After finishing T8 here last year, Steele missed an 8-footer on the 72nd hole that would have seen him join the party at T2. His solo fourth will move him to No. 89 up from No. 106.
Dicky Pride: A decent run of cuts made, five in a row, was rewarded with a T5 this week in Reno but it moved Pride up from No. 152 to No. 140. This just shows again how difficult it is to make up ground in opposite field events. They are playing for 300 points where the WGC boys were playing for 550. Since I don’t to math, I’m not sure how bad a difference that is but I know it’s substantial.
David Mathis: He finds the top 10, T5, for the first time since his T10 last season at McGladrey. Mathis finished No. 133 on the list last year but this season finds him at No. 179. Nothing short of a victory at the Wyndham will get him in the top 125.
S.Y. Noh: I was bullish on him heading into the RBC Canadian because I thought he was close. It looks like I was a week early on him breaking back into the top 10. His T5 finish backs his T14 at Sanderson Farms and T75 (MDF) at RBC for his first three-week streak since mid-May. Sean Foley knows what he’s doing and Noh is starting to see it come together. His T7 this week saw him move up from No. 168 to No. 156. Gulp.
Rory Sabbatini: His last four starts have seen him post T9, MC, T17, T12 and T7 this week. He jumps from No. 109 to No. 95 and his next mission will be getting inside the top 90 and/or top 70. He now has four top 10s on the season but none better than T7, hence his predicament.
Chris DiMarco: This was just the 10th start of 2013 for DiMarco and he responded with his first top 10 since last season’s JDC where he finished T8. The veteran will need a victory, if he’s even in the field at Wyndham, as he currently sits at No. 191.
Johnson Wagner: His season didn’t get going until he posted his first top 10 with his T2 finish at The Greenbrier. This is his second top 10 in four events since he had boot camp with his teacher before The Greenbrier. His solo tenth moved him up four, yes four, spots from No. 115 to No. 111.
Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a live chat Wednesday at NOON ET at Rotoworld.com. We will be breaking down the field at the PGA Championship while answering all your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget that you can follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter!