Tiger pushes PGA streak to 6 with another world title
Monday, October 2nd 2006, 8:40 am
By: News On 6
CHANDLER'S CROSS, England (AP) _ Good news for the rest of golf: Tiger Woods is going on vacation.
A streak that began 10 weeks ago on the sun-baked links of Hoylake reached six straight PGA Tour victories on rain-drenched fairways north of London when Woods went wire-to-wire in the American Express Championship, making him the first player in tour history to win at least eight times in three seasons.
Threatened only by the weather that twice delayed the inevitable, Woods closed with a 4-under 67 for an eight-shot victory over Adam Scott and Ian Poulter.
``He's dominating the game,'' Scott said. ``It's not the first time he's done it, either.''
The trophy in hand, Woods had one foot in a courtesy car that was ready to take him away when he took a few questions from the BBC. After playing seven times in the last nine weeks, he was eager to get home to Florida.
``I'm getting away for a little bit,'' Woods said. ``As far as golf, I've had enough of it for a while.''
This might have been his most dominating performance since the streak began at the British Open in July, and not just because the eight-shot victory was his largest margin since winning by 11 at the 2003 Bay Hill Invitational.
Woods had such control over his game that he was third in driving distance and fifth in driving accuracy, missing only 12 fairways all week. And during one stretch, he hit 36 consecutive greens in regulation, a streak that ended when his approach on the 12th hole drifted left and into a bunker for his only bogey of the final round.
One other streak ended on the last hole of the tournament _ it was the first time all week he failed to make eagle on the 567-yard closing hole at The Grove. His chip from just short of the green scooted by the cup and stopped a few feet away for a tap-in birdie that put him at 23-under 261.
``This was a fun week,'' he said. ``I hit the ball really well _ all 72 holes, really. It's fun when you can control your golf ball that well.''
In a week remembered for the death of Byron Nelson, it rekindled curiosity whether Lord Byron's record in 1945 of 11 consecutive victories really is untouchable.
Woods wasn't ready to touch that one _ yet.
``It's still a long way away,'' he said with a laugh. ``If you look at it, I'm barely halfway. What he did was absolutely remarkable, and I'm just thrilled that I've been able to win six in a row twice. That to me is a pretty neat accomplishment in itself.''
Woods won the final four PGA Tour events in 1999 and his first two starts in 2000 to match Ben Hogan (1948) for the second-longest winning streak on the PGA Tour.
He passed Nelson, Hogan, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer with his third PGA Tour season of at least eight victories. Woods won eight times in 1999 and nine times in 2000.
And he has at least one tournament left _ the Tour Championship.
Woods probably won't decide until the last minute whether to play Disney in three weeks. Skipping that tournament, which has never been his favorite, would leave him one round short of being eligible for the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Asked how much that award meant, Woods replied, ``Not much.''
``I've had a good year,'' he said. ``But if you don't play enough rounds, you don't play enough rounds.''
He might come up short because of missing the cut at the U.S. Open for the first time in a major. That was his first tournament back since his father died of cancer in May, and Woods has been nearly unstoppable since then.
The only two tournaments he didn't win was the Western Open (a tie for second) and the World Match Play Championship two weeks ago at Wentworth, a European Tour event that does not count toward his PGA Tour streak.
Woods successfully defended his title for the fifth time this year, and he is 10-of-15 in World Golf Championships that are stroke play.
He won at The Grove the first two days by opening with rounds of 63-64 to build a five-shot lead, and never giving anyone else much hope. The closest anyone got to him on a dreary afternoon in this village north of London was Jim Furyk, his Ryder Cup partner.
Furyk got within five shots through five holes and was at 15 under when his approach to the sixth buried in lush grass on the side of a hill. The entire group searched for the ball, and it was located only because Ian Poulter inadvertently stepped on it. By rule, Furyk had to drop the ball in the same spot without penalty because of the outside interference.
Furyk then told rules official Mike Shea he was taking a one-stroke penalty for an unplayable lie because he would not have been able to play it had the group found the ball without Poulter stepping on it. He went back to the fairway and got up-and-down for bogey.
``I just felt like it was definitely taking advantage of the situation,'' Furyk said. ``Ian did me a favor by finding the ball. Stepping on it probably was the only way we were going to get it. All that went through my mind, and I felt like I did the right thing.''
Furyk closed with a 69 and finished fourth at 270.
Woods improved to 38-3 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the last round, and he has never lost when leading by more than one. Any thoughts about a collapse ended early, when Woods hit a long iron from 225 yards on the par-5 second that dropped softly over a bunker and stopped 3 feet away.
In one of his rare mistakes, Woods hit the putt too hard and it lipped out, making him settle for birdie.
The person carrying the scoreboard got confused and posted 20 under next to Brett Quigley's name, which came as a shock to some of the fans pressed behind the ropes down the third fairway. Those who had been following Woods all week knew better.
``He's obviously at a comfort level with his swing,'' Scott said. ``He's phenomenal. We're all up against it. I've got to start playing in the events he doesn't play in, that's for sure.''
The next couple of weeks might be a good time to play.