Tiger Woods made it two wins in the last two weeks as he outplayed Padraig Harrington to win the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Ohio.
Woods was in superb form over the weekend at Firestone as he closed with rounds of 65 and 65 to catch and overtake Harrington and claim his seventh Bridgestone Invitational title.
Harrington led Woods by three coming into the final round and a great duel between two of the game’s most determined competitors looked to be on the cards. The galleries didn’t have to wait long for the fireworks to start as Tiger made an eagle three at the par-5 second hole and closed the gap on Padraig to just one.
The World Number-1 followed that up with birdies at the fourth, fifth and ninth to take a two-shot lead over Harrington who parred every hole on the front nine. “I just knew I had to get off to a quick start somehow,” said Woods. “I was able to do that and, fortunately, I was able to keep it going.”
Harrington came back at Woods in the middle of the back nine as he made a birdie at the 11th and Woods slipped with back-to-back bogeys at the 13th and 14th. At that point the Irishman regained a one-shot advantage.
“It was a great match, a great battle as I said it would be,” Harrington said. “I was thoroughly enjoying it all the way through, really was enjoying it, really got into it through the end of the front nine all the way through the back nine I was right in there, in the zone, which was very nice.”
But, the big turning point came at the par-5 16th. Both players found the trees off the tee and while Woods pitched out into the fairway, Harrington’s escape found a tricky lie on the upslope beyond a fairway bunker. Woods went first and played a majestic 8-iron that flew 10 feet past the cup before spinning back to tap-in distance. It will go down as one of the great shots in the tournament’s history.
Harrington, clearly feeling he needed to respond, went for the flag but overshot the green into a difficult spot in thick rough. He attempted a parachute shot but caught the ball thin and fired it back across the green into the lake on the other side. A penalty drop, a pitch back and two more shots led to a disappointing eight and the tournament was Woods’ to lose.
“I rushed my second shot chipping it out and didn’t hit a good shot and obviously left myself in trouble.” Said Harrington. “I hit a pretty decent third shot. Again, I had an awkward fourth shot. I had to go after it and probably rushed that a bit, as well – that was the end of that.”
Woods made par at the 17th then finished in style with a birdie at the closing hole to win the tournament by four. It was his 70th PGA Tour title and his second in two weeks after he won the Buick Open last Sunday. He now goes to the PGA Championship at Hazeltine looking to make it a “hat-trick.”
Robert Allenby’s closing 66 could have been a number of shots better had his putter worked more effectively. But, the Australian did manage to climb into a tie for second place with Harrington. Masters Champion Angel Cabrera fired a closing 67 to finish in a tie for fourth with Hunter Mahan while Lee Westwood closed with a 65 to finish alone in ninth.
WGC – Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone CC, Akron, Ohio
Aug 6-9, purse €6,500,000, par 70
1 Tiger Woods (USA) 68 70 65 65 268 €999,407
T2 Robert Allenby (Aus) 68 69 69 66 272 €474,718
T2 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 64 69 67 72 272 €474,718
T4 Angel Cabrera (Arg) 70 68 68 67 273 €237,002
T4 Hunter Mahan (USA) 68 69 70 66 273 €237,002
T6 Stewart Cink (USA) 69 69 68 68 274 €153,004
T6 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) 68 72 66 68 274 €153,004
T6 Steve Stricker (USA) 67 69 71 67 274 €153,004
9 Lee Westwood (Eng) 69 71 70 65 275 €114,218
10 Mike Weir (Can) 71 66 69 70 276 €103,510
Player scores listed in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only