After Tiger Woods's incredible round of 61 on Friday, the final round on Sunday, and really the entire weekend, was just a formality. As he so often does, Woods ran out to the 36- and 54-hole lead and gave no one the slightest hope of having the chance to knock him off the top of the leaderboard at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Tiger finished things off Sunday with an even-par round of 70 to blow the field away by seven shots. The stretch on Friday was some of the best golf ever played by Woods, who dominated the game like no other player in golf history. An outward 30 was backed up by four straight birdies to start the back nine, and the "59 watch" became a full-on "59 warning" as it looked like the No. 1 player in the world would become the sixth player ever to break 60. He stalled out a bit on the final five holes, but the round of 61 matched his career low, his own course record at Firestone, and ended the tournament by giving him an insurmountable seven-shot margin.
Woods maintained the seven-shot lead on Saturday firing another round in the 60s, a two-under 68. Sunday was simply another celebratory march into the clubhouse, where he would collect his eighth career trophy at this event (and a nice $1.5M paycheck). Tiger generally kept things safe on a Firestone layout that was playing tougher in the final round. He kept his tee shots in the ballpark, and put many of his approach shots right in the center of the greens to set up easy two-putt pars. That approach led to a casual even-par outward 35, as he made nine straight pars to open the round. At No. 10, he finally got on the board with his first red number of the day and celebrated thusly:
It is the fifth 2013 win for Tiger, who has an unassailable lead in the FedExCup standings, the money list and world rankings. Some more ridiculous marks this win adds to for Tiger:
- Tiger now has 79 career PGA Tour wins, second most all-time behind Sam Snead's 82. As Jason Sobel noted, Snead won his 79th title at age 47, meaning Tiger could now go a decade without winning and still be on Snead's pace. Point being: that record is falling.
- The eighth career win at a single event matches his own PGA Tour record of eight victories at Bay Hill and Snead's eight wins at the Greensboro stop.
- Perhaps the most amazing stat on a résumé full of amazing: This is Tiger's 10th season of at least five PGA Tour wins. We fawn over golfers who put together three-win seasons, and anyone who had five would be hailed as the next Tiger Woods. But no one will ever match that stat.
- This is Tiger's 18th WGC title. The next closest person is Geoff Ogilvy, who has ... three.
- This is the 12th time Tiger has won a PGA Tour event by six shots or more. As ESPN's Justin Ray relayed, no one has more than two wins of that margin since Tiger came on the scene.
As always with Tiger, the superlatives can go on forever.
The final round didn't have some of the fireworks of the previous three days, but Tiger didn't need them. Woods simply wanted to avoid a shaky round with the putter to roll into Oak Hill and the PGA Championship off a win, and with confidence. There had been some hand-wringing after Tiger's disappointing Sunday at the British Open, and this has to be a nice little boost for Woods heading into the season's final major. There will of course still be questions about Tiger getting it done on the weekend after a major with a win at Firestone, where he's always been comfortable, doing little to ease critics' doubts.
But the dominance at Firestone will only add to the overwhelming odds favoring Woods next week. The Firestone South layout is comparable to the one he'll face at Oak Hill -- a 7,000-yard-plus mammoth tree-lined parklands course that requires driver. Tiger hit that driver, and every other club, well this week. The trends are certainly favorable for the No. 1 player:
The only time Tiger Woods has won the week before a major by 6+ shots was the 2007 Bridgestone. He won the PGA the next week.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) August 4, 2013
Even with this performance, the questions about his recent play on the weekends at the majors will be waiting for him at his press conference on Tuesday. Woods has been close, and if he continues the form from this week, that five-year majors drought will be over a week from today.