Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tiger Woods - Player of the year.

Tiger Woods wins Tour Championship… and $US11m
by Andrew Both

Tiger Woods has shot the lowest score of his illustrious career in blowing away the field to win the Tour Championship by eight strokes in Atlanta.

Woods led throughout the final round, carding a four-under-par 66 in pleasant conditions at East Lake in the final event of the new FedEx Cup play-off series.

He finished at 23-under 257, two strokes better than his previous best total of 21-under 259 at the 2000 NEC Invitational.

Woods also smashed the Tour Championship record low score, at the same time securing his fourth victory in his past five starts and emphatically clinching the FedEx Cup title.

And he posted his 61st victory on the US PGA Tour, remaining fifth on the all-time list, just one behind Arnold Palmer.

“It’s been just a phenomenal week. I just hit shot after shot and when I got on the greens my speed was good all week,” he said.

Woods started the final round with a three-shot edge over Calcavecchia, and was a little shaky early, with a bogey at the par-3 second followed by a three-metre par save at No.3.

However, he found his groove from there, picking up three birdies in four holes starting at No.6 to go four shots clear at the turn.

The back nine was pretty much a lap of honour, as he added three more birdies before bogeying the 17th, which did not stop him from shattering the tournament record by no fewer than six strokes.

Woods not only collected $US10 million ($A12 million) for winning the FedEx Cup, but also received $US1.26 million ($A1.51 million) for winning the tournament.

Woods decided after a mediocre performance at the British Open in July to alter his swing, and spent the following week at home working on the changes.

When he turned up at the Bridgestone Invitational the following week, his revamped swing was the talk of the range.

Astute judges said it looked better than ever, and so it has proved as he has finished no worse than second since.

Woods will play only twice more the rest of the year - at next week’s Presidents Cup in Canada, as well as his own unofficial tournament in California in December.

His peers can only hope he doesn’t bring his current form into 2008, or they will have no chance.

By Andrew Both - © 2007 AAP

Following are some of the American’s highlights since he turned professional in 1996.

* Becomes the youngest Masters winner with a tournament record aggregate of 18-under-par 270 at Augusta National in 1997. His victory margin of 12 shots is the biggest in the tournament’s history.

* After a lean spell in 1998, when he revamps his swing with coach Butch Harmon, Woods wins eight titles in a golden run on the 1999 PGA tour, including his second major at the PGA Championship where he holds off a charging Sergio Garcia.

* In 2000, Woods produces one of the most successful seasons in golfing history. Romps to victory by a record 15 strokes in the US Open, coasts home by eight shots in the British Open and claims his second PGA Championship.

Becomes the fifth and youngest player to win a career grand slam of all four majors. Ends the year with nine titles on the PGA Tour, having completed his sixth in a row at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February.

* Wins his second Masters in 2001 to become the first player to hold all four professional major titles at the same time.

* In 2004, he fails to win a major for the second year in a row after embarking on the second revamp of his swing since turning professional. Breaks Greg Norman’s record for most weeks as world number one with a combined tally of 332 but his five-year reign at the top finally ends in September when Fijian Vijay Singh takes over.

* One year later, Woods wins his fourth Masters title and his second British Open. Reclaims world No.1 ranking in June and has held it ever since.

* Has an emotional 2006, having to deal with the illness and death in May of his father Earl. After tying for third at the Masters in April, he takes a nine-week break before missing the cut in the US Open on his return, the first time he has done that in a major as a professional. Comes back to win the last two majors of the year, the British Open at Hoylake and the PGA Championship at Medinah. Ends 2006 with 11 titles worldwide, including six in a row on the PGA Tour.

* In his first start of 2007, claims the Buick Invitational by two shots at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California to stretch his PGA Tour winning streak to seven, the second best in history.

* Cruises to an eight-shot victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio on August 5, his 14th individual title in a World Golf Championships (WGC) event.

* One week later, Woods clinches his 13th major and fourth US PGA Championship by two shots at Southern Hills Country Club. Only Jack Nicklaus, with a record 18 career majors, lies ahead of him.

* Wins his 61st PGA Tour title by eight strokes at the Tour Championship after closing with a four-under-par 66, plus a $US10 million ($A12 million) bonus as the inaugural FedExCup champion.

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