Tiger Woods parlays big lead into seven-shot victory at Bridgestone, favorite’s role at PGA Championship

They say par is a good score in a major.

If that’s true next week at the PGA Championship, then Tiger Woods has already done his share of preparation.

Woods played safe and smart with a big lead, parring 16 holes in an even-par 70 on Sunday to coast to a seven-shot victory at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, for his eighth win at the event — matching the PGA Tour record he already shared for victories in a single tournament.

“As blustery as it was, it was going to be really hard for someone to shoot 62 or 63,” Woods said. “If I didn’t give any shots away and played my game and shot even par or better, I’d force these guys to go and shoot something super low on a golf course that wasn’t going to give it up under these conditions.”

As he walked to the scorer’s trailer to finalize his score, he scooped up 4-year-old son Charlie, who hugged him tightly as his father strode past the large gallery wildly cheering his landslide victory.

“This is the first win he’s ever been at,” Woods said. “That’s what makes it special for both of us.”

Daughter Sam was on hand when Woods, won the U.S. Open in 2008, before his personal life imploded. Now Charlie will have some memories of dad in the winner’s circle.

After a second-round 61 in which he flirted with 59, Woods ended up at 15-under 265 to easily beat defending champ Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Bradley, a huge fan of Tiger’s when he was a youngster, was asked if he liked to see Woods dominate like he did a decade or so ago.

“When I was younger, I did,” Bradley said. “You know, I hate to sit here and go on and on about how good he is, but he is. It’s difficult because I really want to get up there and contend with him. But he’s just . . . this week he’s playing really well.”

Woods’s mastery at Firestone Country Club allowed him to again match Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record for wins in an event. Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Earlier this year, Woods won at Bay Hill for the eighth time.

As if he weren’t already the favorite next week in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the lopsided victory reinforced it.

No one ever got within six shots all day of the world’s No. 1.

The victory was Woods’s 79th on the PGA Tour, drawing him within three of Snead’s record 82 triumphs.

●LPGA TOUR: Stacy Lewis felt such a spiritual connection with St. Andrews that even when she was three behind with three to play, she never lost hope she could win the Women’s British Open.

No way could she have scripted a finish like this.

Facing the scariest shot and the hardest hole on the Old Course — the approach to the 17th, the famous Road Hole — Lewis pictured a low 5-iron that a right-to-left wind would knock down and allow to bounce up the slope toward the flag without going over the back of the green.

“It’s one of those shots you see in your head, but you don’t really ever pull it off,” Lewis said. “And just off the club face, it was perfect.”

The ball settled three feet away for birdie, the best shot of the tournament, maybe the best of her career.

Then, she wisely used putter from 40 yards short of the 18th green, through the Valley of Sin to 25 feet. Lewis bent over and placed both hands on her knees after making the putt, a birdie-birdie finish that gave another special moment at the home of golf — her second major title.

Lewis saved her best for the final two holes of a marathon finish Sunday and closed with an even-par 72 for a two-shot victory over Na Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park. It ended a record drought for the Americans in the majors — 10 straight, all won by Asian players.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lewis said. “It all happened so fast at the end. You’re afraid for every shot, and all of a sudden you make a couple of birdies and it’s over.”

●CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Pernice Jr. birdied the final two holes for a one-stroke victory over Jeff Sluman and Corey Pavin in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.

Pernice finished with a 4-under 68 and had a 17-under 199 total at the TPC Twin Cities for his second career Champions Tour victory. He also has two career PGA Tour victories.

Sluman closed with a 62, and Pavin had a 66.

 
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