Woods Makes a Major Push
Against the best players in the world, in the toughest conditions this side of a major, Tiger Woods felt at home.
With momentum slipping away, he hit a delicate flop shot out of the first cut of rough that carried a bunker and stopped four feet away for a crucial par. With his lead down to one, he blistered a four-iron to the back of the green to set up an easy birdie.
When it was over, Woods left no doubt who was the best in the world at the American Express Championship in Woodstock, Ga.
“Any time you get to play against the best players ... that’s when it’s the most challenging,” Woods said. “It’s not a watered-down field. That’s what makes it so difficult to try to win these tournaments.”
With bogeys he could afford on the final two holes, Woods closed with a two-over 72 -- only the fourth time in 39 victories on the PGA Tour he won with a final round over par -- for a two-shot victory over Vijay Singh, Tim Herron and Stuart Appleby.
It was his fifth victory of the year, and his seventh World Golf Championship in 13 tries. Only Darren Clarke has won more than one since the series began in 1999.
And it might be enough for his peers to vote Woods the PGA Tour player of the year for an unprecedented fifth time in a row.
“To win against this field, on this golf course with a major-type setup, it will have a lot of weight to it,” David Toms said after a 65 left him alone in fifth.
“I think he’s a shoo-in,” Appleby said.
Woods finished at six-under 274, the third-highest winning score this year behind the British Open (one-under 283) and the PGA Championship (four-under 276).
He won $1.05 million to replace Singh atop the money list by about $170,000.
Woods has two tournaments left -- Disney and the Tour Championship -- and said anything could happen over the final month of the season.
The only thing he was willing to celebrate Sunday at the Capital City Club was the 100th victory for his caddie, Steve Williams, who previously carried the bag for Peter Thomson, Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd.
“People have no idea how big this win was,” Woods said. “It’s not just the player of the year or the money title, it was Stevie’s 100th win. He’s meant a lot to a lot of the success I’ve had.”
John Huston erased a two-stroke deficit over his final four holes and shot a 68 to win the Southern Farm Bureau Classic by one stroke over Brenden Pappas, who closed with a 10-under 62.
Pappas started the final round in Madison, Miss., seven strokes behind Huston, the 54-hole leader.
But Huston, showing the poise of a 15-year PGA Tour veteran, birdied 15, 16 and 17 to take back the lead and finished at 20-under 268.
Helen Alfredsson shot a two-under 70 and picked up her first victory since 1998 after Pat Hurst’s double bogey on the final hole of the Longs Drugs Challenge in Lincoln, Calif.
Alfredsson made an 18-inch par putt on the 18th hole at the Lincoln Hills Club to finish at 13-under 275 and defeat Hurst, Grace Park, Rachel Teske, Se Ri Pak and Yong Yeon Lee by one stroke.
“When you haven’t been playing well, you want it so much,” said Alfredsson, whose previous best finish in 17 tournaments this year was an 11th. “If this is a dream, don’t wake me up.”
Hurst appeared to have the tournament won when she took a one-shot lead to the final hole. But she four-putted from the fringe for a double bogey, allowing Alfredsson to win.