Woods Ready For Masters After Doral Win


Monday, March 26th 2007, 7:26 am
By: News On 6


MIAMI (AP) _ By the time Brett Wetterich put the slightest bit of pressure on Tiger Woods at the CA Championship, it was too late. And as he walked to the 18th green, Wetterich knew it, too.

``Finishing second,'' he said, ``is not such a bad thing.''

Especially not when you're finishing second to Woods at an event he dominates, on a course that ranks as one of his favorites, and when he says his game makes him ``very pleased.''

Augusta National, you are on alert.

Woods is ready for the Masters, stating so with an emphatic win at Doral on Sunday, when he shot a 1-over 73 and finished two strokes ahead of Wetterich for his 56th career victory, one that earned him $1.35 million and pushed his career winnings over $68 million.

The two-stroke margin doesn't properly illustrate the start-to-finish control Woods had in the final round. He led by six shots after making birdies at the ninth and 10th, took a three-shot lead over Wetterich to the last hole and hit a conservative iron off the tee on the par-4 hole.

``I make five, he can't win the tournament,'' Woods said, ``So I laid up, hit 3-iron off the tee and 8-iron and a wedge and just two-putted and tournament was over.''

Indeed, Woods two-putted from 50 feet for his bogey, Wetterich made par, and the deal was sealed. Woods is now believed to be the first player to win a PGA Tour event six times on six courses, is 13-for-24 in World Golf Championship events, and 11-for-16 when the WGC is a stroke-play format.

And if you listened to some of his competitors Sunday, most of the field knew what was coming:

_Ernie Els: ``He's always tough. But give him a four-shot lead, then it's really tough.''

_Robert Allenby: ``I didn't see anyone ever catching Tiger.''

_Geoff Ogilvy: ``He's just better than us, I think.''

_Mark Calcavecchia: ``Unless he pulls a Calcavecchia on 18, he'll win by several.''

That last line deserves an explanation.

Calcavecchia made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the final hole, hitting his second into the water, then actually putting into the drink later in the adventure-filled sequence. Woods had no way of knowing what Calcavecchia did when he reached the last tee, but in the end, he also was smart enough to avoid even flirting with a disaster like that.

``Today's conditions, it was a little tough out there, and I stayed pretty patient all day,'' Woods said. ``The whole idea today was to shoot under par and I figured if I shot under par it would be over. Didn't quite get it done, but ended up winning the tournament anyways.''

Woods started the day with a four-shot lead and stretched it with a birdie on the par-4 first hole _ where he was 5 under for the week and has posted 16 consecutive scores under par. He three-putted the eighth for bogey, before making back-to-back birdies on the next two holes, and his control was never truly in doubt.

``I just didn't do anything until the last few holes,'' Wetterich said, ``and that's not good enough if you want to try to beat Tiger when he's got a four-shot lead.''

Woods' victory came one week after he took two double bogeys and a triple bogey on his back nine at Bay Hill. Whatever ailed him there was fixed by the time he got to Doral, where he's now won his last three appearances. He's taking this week off, then heading to Augusta.

Allenby ran off six birdies in his first 14 holes and his 5-under 67 was the best score of the final round, when the only drama was to see who would finish second. Allenby wound up in a tie for third at 6-under 282 with Ogilvy (70) and Sergio Garcia (70).

``I knew I was never going to win, so I was trying to finish second,'' Allenby said. ``That was my main objective, try to finish as high as I could to try to finish second.''

Garcia was the only player to break par all four days at Doral, but his week will almost certainly be remembered more for the incident Saturday when he spit into the 13th hole after three-putting.

And on Sunday, he still didn't want to say much about it.

``I apologized already,'' Garcia snapped after his final round, when asked if he was embarrassed about the incident. ``Are you embarrassed that I didn't spit today, that you didn't have anything better to ask me? That's fine.''

But as the sun went down, all the talk was about Woods and the Masters. It's no secret that the pursuit of winning additional major championships drives him more than anything else in the game, and Woods _ often his own harshest critic _ says his game is in the right form.

Woods got the best preparation of all this week for the Masters.

``You can't have any better way, getting a 'W' right before you go,'' he said.

Divots: Calcavecchia is now ninth on the money list, which means he's going to the Masters by virtue of being in the top 10 on the season-long standings. Mark Wilson missed out, dropping from ninth to 12th on that list. ... Out of 72 finishers, 18 didn't finish under par in any round.