Off day not enough to derail Woods at Doral

Associated Press • Mar 26, 2007 at 12:54 PM

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

For the first time in 3½ years, he couldn't break par when he had entered Sunday with the lead. And he played so cautiously on the final hole of the CA Championship 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.

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

Forget the details and consider the big picture.

He was so dominant at Doral that he didn't have to break par. He built such a commanding lead on a warm, blustery afternoon that the smartest play was to hit 3-iron off the tee, 8-iron to lay up and wedge some 50 feet beyond the cup on the demanding 18th hole.

"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 1-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 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.

Woods 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 past three years.

"I love this golf course," he said. "And when it was decided that we were going to come here, I just through 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. He's just a good player," 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 8 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 3-iron off the tee on the 465-yard closing hole, laid up with an 8-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 5-under 67 was the best score of the final round, the only drama was to see would finish second. Allenby wound up in a tie for third at 6-under 282 with Ogilvy (70) and Sergio Garcia (70), the only player to break par all for days at Doral.

Garcia bristled when asked if he was embarrassed by spitting into the cup after missing a putt on Saturday.

"I apologized already," he said. "Are you embarrassed that I didn't spit today, that you didn't have anything better to ask me? Next."

Safeway International

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. - 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.

Ochoa shot a 4-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 Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. But this time she survived, overtaking Norway's Pettersen with birdies on the 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th holes.

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

The Mexican star opened the day with a four-stroke lead, but it disappeared as Pettersen then added another birdie on the seventh. Two years ago, Ochoa blew a four-stroke lead with three holes to play and lost to Annika Sorenstam in a playoff.

Pettersen needed only five holes to erase Ochoa's lead, birdieing the second, third, fourth and fifth holes. Pettersen surged ahead when Ochoa bogeyed the par-4 sixth hole, missing a 4-foot putt. Ochoa reclaimed the lead for good when she made a 10-foot putt on the par-3 17th.

Madeira Islands Open SANTO DA SERRA, Madeira Islands - Argentina's Daniel Vancsik won the Madeira Islands Open for his first European tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a seven-stroke victory. Vancsik had an 18-under 270 total. South Africa's David Frost (68) and Spain's Santiago Luna (69) tied for second.

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