Woods: His Day

Golf At&t National

Champ Runs Record To 46-3 When He Has Lead Entering Last Round

July 06, 2009|By Barry Svrluga | Barry Svrluga,The Washington Post

Tiger Woods might have lost his own golf tournament Sunday, if he was capable of frittering such events away. It was there for him to give away, because he couldn't overcome the 11th hole at Congressional Country Club's Blue Course, because he lost a ball there and because he was muttering obscenities under his breath in frustration.

But this week would have, somehow, ended inappropriately if Woods had allowed this tournament - the AT&T National, the event he hosts to boost his foundation and honor the military - to slip away. He generally does not permit such things to happen, so why start here, with his own event?

That, then, was the message Woods sent on the 16th green, where he rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt to take the lead over Hunter Mahan - the man who went out 80 minutes before Woods and matched the course record with a 62. That was the stroke that gave him back the lead. That was the stroke that let Mahan know a playoff wouldn't be necessary. That, too, was the move folks had to expect, because Tiger Woods doesn't lose tournaments on Sundays.

The victory - Woods finished with a 67 on Sunday and at 13-under-par 267 for the week - came by that one shot over Mahan, whose record round matched the one Anthony Kim shot Thursday. It came, too, over Kim, Woods' playing partner, the 24-year-old who wanted so badly to have the chance to play with - and perhaps even beat - his boyhood hero.

"I had a lot of fun," Kim said. "It was a good learning experience. I'll be knocking on the door again."

Those knocks, though, had best not come when Woods has at least a share of the lead headed into the final round. His record on the PGA Tour in such instances: 46-3.

There were several times when Woods seemed as if he would run away. But a few strange things happened to keep this a match until the 72nd hole. The first came at the par-5 ninth, where Woods looked as if he was already starting to manage the lead.

Kim, though, made a spectacular play from the rough onto the green, leaving himself a 13-foot downhill putt for birdie. He made it. Woods couldn't answer, and the lead was back at two shots. Kim was hanging around.

The instinct, again, was to call the ballgame for Woods at the par-3 10th, where he left his tee shot 30 feet below the hole and then made probably his best putt of the day. That birdie got him to 13-under, and he was three shots clear of the field.

Ah, but the 11th hole was next, and the bear - which plays as a par-5 for members but a par-4 for this tournament - locked in at 494 yards Sunday. Woods got along with everything and everyone here - the galleries, the military he honored, his playing partners - except the 11th. In three previous days, he went bogey, bogey, double bogey.

So when his drive headed down the right side of the fairway - which is protected not only by bunkers, but also by a snaking creek - it was hardly a surprise. And when he stalked toward the ball, which marshals could not find, the words he muttered through his teeth were not fit for print. But he took an unplayable and hacked his way to a bogey.

"He's pretty good," Mahan said afterward. "He knows what he's doing. He knows how to play his game better than anybody."

Indeed, his game is winning tournaments.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.