Tiger did not win but 15 under is still a good score at Doral

Even someone like former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy can acknowledge being a bit mesmerized by seeing Tiger Woods win tournament after tournament after tournament.

”It’s quite fun to watch,” Ogilvy said.

Sure, but it doesn’t compare to beating Woods – especially when the world’s No. 1 hasn’t lost in six months.

Ogilvy won the CA Championship on Monday, saving a round that seemed in peril with a chip-in for par at the 13th hole and going on to claim his second victory in a World Golf Championship event. And not only did Ogilvy take down Tiger, he did it at Doral, where Woods had won each of the past three years.

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So much for that perfect-season talk. The streak is over.

 

”It was going to end at some point,” Ogilvy said. ”I’m very glad that I did it. It’s a nice place to do it, too, because he’s obviously owned this place for the last few years. He just had one of those weeks.”

A final round of 1-under 71 – with nothing but nine pars Monday – was enough for Ogilvy to finish at 17 under, one shot better than Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh, who all closed with 68s in the rain-delayed tournament. Woods was fifth at 15 under, losing for the first time in six PGA Tour starts and seven official ones worldwide, not counting his win at the Target World Challenge.

”As players, it’s nice to see somebody else lift a trophy for a change,” Goosen said.

Calgary’s Stephen Ames finished eight shots off the pace after closing with a 2-under 70. Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., shot a 1-under 71 and was nine strokes behind.

With the win, Ogilvy joined select company – only Woods (15) and Darren Clarke (two) have more than one WGC title.

”People don’t really understand, you need to have something happen, a positive thing happen to you out there in order to win tournaments,” Woods said. ”I heard Geoff bladed one in the hole for par. That’s what you need to have happen. Those are the things that have happened to me, and things weren’t going that way this week.”

Indeed, Ogilvy got the biggest break at the most crucial time.

Woods started the morning five shots back with seven holes remaining and made his typical charge, closing within two strokes after making a four-footer at the 17th. He birdied the 12th to start his day, then hit his tee shot within a foot at the par-3 15th for a tap-in.

At that very moment, two holes behind, Ogilvy seemed in trouble.

He pulled his two-iron tee shot at the par-3 13th way left, and his chip from thick, dewy grass didn’t even reach the green – making bogey seem probable, until a most improbable shot followed.

Ogilvy’s second chip hopped twice, hit the pin and dropped straight in, giving the Australian a break he desperately needed. If it went past the cup, he surely could have been looking at double bogey – since the ball clearly would have kept rolling for a while.

”That was moving,” Ogilvy said. ”That’s why you have to hit it on line. Flag gets in the way.”

Around the same time that chip dropped in, Ogilvy’s nearest pursuers began falling off.

Singh was the first one to make a run at Ogilvy, getting within a stroke before back-to-back bogeys doomed his chances. Furyk got within one after making birdie at the 17th, then missed the fairway at the finishing hole. Adam Scott started the morning four shots back, then inexplicably missed a two-foot tap-in and lost all hope of making a run.

”Geoff played well,” Singh said. ”He hit a lot of great shots and putted nicely. Somebody had to win, somebody had to lose.”

For a change, Woods was one of those somebodies on the losing side.

It was Woods’ first defeat since Sept. 3, and his perfect start to 2008 begged the ridiculous-sounding question: Could he go unbeaten for an entire year?

”You want to always win every one you play in,” Woods said. ”So you’ve just got to get ready for the next one.”

His next official tournament: the Masters, where Woods’ annual Grand Slam quest will begin.

”I think it’s a great sign, what happened this week, to make that many mistakes and only be two back,” Woods said.

It has come to this: When Woods doesn’t win, it counts as stunning news.

He was less than an even-money favourite before the tournament began, and at least one British bookmaker had Woods at the preposterous odds of 1-to-3 after the second round – when he wasn’t even in the lead.

But since Woods’ surge of late was amazing even by his own standards, why would those oddsmakers expect anything less?

”The chitchat about ‘Is he going to win every golf tournament this year,’ that’s frustrating stuff to hear,” Ogilvy said.

Ogilvy won’t have to hear it anymore.

His last win was the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, the one best remembered by Phil Mickelson’s final-hole double-bogey collapse that handed Ogilvy the title.

There was some symmetry at Doral, where this week might go down as the week Tiger lost.

”I guess they stopped going in for him this week,” Ogilvy said. ”Yeah, it’s nice.”

Notes:

Woods’ check for US$285,000 put him over the $80-million mark in official earnings. .. Woods was among several players who scurried out quickly to get to Orlando for the afternoon start to the Tavistock Cup, the annual match between pros from the Lake Nona and Isleworth clubs. ”Going to be a long day,” Woods said. .. Goosen’s finish was his best since tying for second at the Masters last year.

Tiger Woods one shot back of the leaders, Geoff Ogilvy and Miguel Angel Jimenez

Tiger Woods kept his head down as the rain fell harder and never broke stride as he followed a series of winding stairs and back doors, each step taking him farther from the Blue Monster. A security guard politely asked for an autograph, and Woods reached for a pen and forced a smile.

A tough day at the office.

He shot 67 and was two shots off the lead Thursday at the CA Championship.

Woods hasn’t lost a tournament since September, a streak that includes six official victories around the world, the last title coming four days ago with a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Bay Hill.

Apparently, he’s working on another streak – the endless pursuit of perfection.


 
 

Woods was poised to catch Geoff Ogilvy and Miguel Angel Jimenez, each of whom opened at 7-under 65, until he missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the 16th and three-putted the 18th hole from 70 feet, missing the last one from five feet.

Someone asked if the three-putt bothered him.

”Yeah, I’m (ticked),” Woods said with a cold glare. ”You three-putt 18, you’re not going to be happy.”

Strange, because it was Ogilvy who referred to the Blue Monster at Doral as a ”happy place,” for Woods, and that’s ordinarily the case. He has won here the last two years, and won this World Golf Championship six times in eight years.

For most, it was a shift in the wind that brought joy.

After practice rounds in ferocious wind, so severe that Ogilvy didn’t even bother playing on Wednesday, it made a slow shift to favourable conditions, allowing for all but two dozen players in the 79-man field to break par.

Ogilvy got off to a strong start in one respect. He’s ahead of Woods.

The former U.S. Open champion is savvy enough to know that golf is about beating the course better than anyone else, but these times call for slight adjustments. Woods has become the most dominant player this side of World War II.

”You know starting the week if you want to win the tournament, you’re going to have to beat him because you know he’s going to be in contention come the last nine holes here on Sunday,” Ogilvy said. ”It’s just one of his happy places, obviously. If I can just be one in front after every round, that will be pretty good.”

Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont., and Calgary’s Stephen Ames each shot a 73 to leave them tied for 56th.

One shot out of the lead was Stewart Cink, who has played in the final group at three tournaments this year and is playing more consistently than anyone but Woods.

Woods wasn’t all that bad, he just sounded that way.

”I didn’t really do anything all that special today,” Woods said. ”I just kind of hung in there and took care of the par 5s, and made a couple of other birdies here and there. But all in all, just kind of ground it out.”

If it wasn’t anything spectacular and he still was only two shots bad, that would seem to bode ominously for the rest of the 78 players gathered at Doral for this World Golf Championship.

But there was a sense after one day that no one was going to lay down.

Phil Mickelson rallied from a double bogey in the water with four birdies over his final six holes to match Woods at 67, and they were joined by Adam Scott, who is No. 5 in the world and won the Qatar Masters earlier this year with a 61 on the last day.

Four days after slamming his cap to the ground to celebrate a 25-foot birdie putt to win at Bay Hill, he rarely broke a smile. Woods started strongly, with an easy two-putt birdie on the par-5 opening hole and a 20-foot birdie down the fast green at No. 3. He made birdie on two other par 5s, one by missing an eagle putt from 20 feet, the other with a wedge inside a foot.

His longest putt was a mere 18 feet on the par-3 15th, and Woods had a chance to join the leaders when he blasted a tee shot into the front bunker on the 366-yard 16th hole, only to miss from 7 feet.

”I’ve got to trust what I see,” Woods said, referring to the grain in these Bermuda greens. ”I didn’t do that enough times today.”

Ogilvy felt much better as he continues a slow rise back to form. He has not won since his U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot in 2006, and he took a month off around the holidays when his second child was born.

But he played in the final group at Innisbrook two weeks ago, closed with a 66 at Bay Hill to leave on a positive note, then kept the ball in the short grass for most of a cloudy day in south Florida to tie Jimenez, a Spaniard making his debut at Doral.

”It’s definitely been building,” Ogilvy said. ”I came here feeling better than I did going to Bay Hill, and I went to Bay Hill feeling better than I did when I went to Tampa.”

He was back in his room after Bay Hill in time watch Woods birdie the last hole from 25 feet for the win.

”It’s never surprising when he holes it, but it’s always impressive,” Ogilvy said. ”We’re all impressed. Hopefully, none of us are scared. I just want to win tournaments, and he’s very impressive. But I don’t go to bed thinking about it.”

Cink, meanwhile, is trying to bury memories of a few close calls. Woods manhandled him in the Accenture Match Play Championship, winning by a record margin (8 and 7) in the final round. Two weeks later, Cink had an early four-shot lead in Tampa until a late collapse paved the way for Sean O’Hair.

”The memories linger from that,” Cink said. ”I gave it away, but I learned from it. It’s part of the process. Let me just say that not everybody out here isTiger Woods, OK? He’s making it look easy. And it’s not easy.”