The battle was everything Tiger Woods expected. The finish was nothing anyone imagined, except for Woods hoisting another World Golf Championship trophy at Firestone.
He delivered another signature moment, this one an eight-iron from 178 that wound up a foot from the hole for birdie. Moments later, with an official timing his every shot, Padraig Harrington rushed his way into a stunning meltdown. He hit five straight shots without losing his turn, made triple bogey and became a bystander the final two holes as Woods won for the 70th time on the PGA Tour.
Woods closed with a five-under-par 65, becoming the first player in tour history to win seven times on the same golf course and giving him consecutive victories going into the PGA Championship, his last chance to win a major this year.
Woods' 12-under total of 268 was four shots ahead of Harrington and Robert Allenby.
Woods won it with an eight-iron that was pure theater.
"When I hit it, I knew it was going to be a good one," he said. "I thought it was going to be just a little bit past the hole. I was surprised it spun that much considering it was that much downwind. But it came back and ended up a kick-in."
Woods also said Harrington lost because of a stopwatch that was unnecessary.
Woods and Harrington were timed earlier in the round, then told by John Paramor, the PGA European Tour's chief referee, that they were on the clock on the 16th tee.
Knowing he had no time to contemplate his escape from the trees, the collar of a bunker and a dicey flop shot behind the green, Harrington turned the hole known as "The Monster" into an utter mess.
The pivotal play was his fourth shot behind the green, which came out hot and went into the water.
"I had an awkward fourth shot," Harrington said. "I had to go after it and probably rushed that a bit. That was the end of that."
Harrington told Woods when it was over, "We'll do battle many times again."
Woods, who holds Harrington, a three-time major champion, in high esteem, looked forward to that.
"Like I was telling him out there, 'I'm sorry that John got in the way of a great battle,' because it was such a great battle for 16 holes," Woods said. "We're going at it, head-to-head, and unfortunately that happened. Paddy and I will definitely do it again."
Asked if he won because of an eight-iron or a stopwatch, Woods replied, "Both."
Paramor said the final pairing was 17 minutes behind schedule on the 16th hole and "we had no choice but to put them on the clock."
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70 and counting
The leaders in all-time victories on the PGA Tour:
Sam Snead: 82
Jack Nicklaus: 73
Tiger Woods*: 70
Ben Hogan: 64
Arnold Palmer: 62