Tiger Woods is now out on the course at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, playing the final 18 holes as a celebratory march on way to his fifth win of the 2013 PGA Tour season. The no-cut limited field tournament with 73 of the best players in the world was over by Friday night, when Woods went crazy and shot 61 to blow away the hopes of any other contenders in Akron. He avoided the implosions, as he always does, on Saturday and carded another under-par round in the 60s to go to sleep with a seven-shot lead.
Unlike the past two days at Firestone South, Tiger was unable to pick up a birdie right out of the gate on the first three holes. His approach shot at the first, which was a pretty pure iron, clipped an overhanging tree and fell short of the green. He was on an incline, however, and got up-and-down for a relatively easy par.
Firestone South, despite a mammoth layout, is a par-70 with just two par-5s. The second hole has been a feast for Woods, who eagled and birdied it the past two days. He likely considers anything less than a birdie a disappointment on the hole. He three-putted it on Thursday for a par, but more than made up for during the next two rounds. On Sunday, his drive missed the fairway and landed in a bunker, forcing a layup and making it a three-shot par-5. But with wedge in hand, Tiger took aim right at the back-left pin and stuck his approach. The birdie putt was just over six feet, a distance he's been perfect from this week, but Woods rapped it past on the low side for the par.
On the third hole, Tiger put his ball in the middle of the fairway, and then easily dropped his approach shot into the center of the green. It was another tap-in par for Tiger, who had played the three holes in a combined 8-under during the first three rounds. It's not the blistering start he had the last two days, but he hasn't needed it.
While the outcome is not in doubt, Woods will want to play, and putt, well on Sunday to roll into the PGA with a bit of momentum. The comfortable setting of Firestone, where he's won seven times, has been a nice little reboot from the Sunday shakiness at Muirfield. A spotty Sunday round won't lose him the tournament, but he's Tiger Woods and he wants to blow the rest away as much as possible.
Tiger is playing with Henrik Stenson, the runner-up at the British Open last month. Stenson has played great this week, but he obviously has no chance of chasing down Woods. At this point, the rest of the field is playing for second and trying to get some work in for next week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard:
|T4||Miguel A. Jimenez||-7||5|