Woods's Roller-Coaster Round Ends at the Top

Tiger Woods celebrates his birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to win the Bridgestone Invitational, which tied him with Byron Nelson in career wins.
Tiger Woods celebrates his birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to win the Bridgestone Invitational, which tied him with Byron Nelson in career wins. (By Montana Pritchard -- Getty Images)

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By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
Monday, August 28, 2006

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 27 -- For three straight holes in a playoff, Tiger Woods could only stand to the side of the green and watch someone else control his fate Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational.

Given a chance to win, he wasn't about to waste it.

Woods hit an 8-iron through a driving rain within eight feet on the fourth extra hole, then made the birdie putt to outlast Stewart Cink at Firestone South for his fourth consecutive victory.

It came on the 10th anniversary of his turning pro, and it gave Woods his 52nd career victory to match Byron Nelson for fifth all time.

"Just end this thing now," Woods said he told himself on the birdie putt at No. 17. "If I make mine, it's over."

And it was, but not before a roller-coaster round that capped off a strange week.

Woods ended his round Friday by hitting a 9-iron over the green, onto the clubhouse roof and down the other side. He followed that by making four straight bogeys Saturday, his longest such streak in nearly 10 years.

Under darkening clouds in the final round, he went from a two-shot deficit to a three-shot lead in a span of four holes, then lost that lead over the final three holes to slip into a playoff.

"I was very lucky to even be in the playoff," he said.

The result was familiar, especially at this event. Woods now has won five times at Firestone, the most of any golf course on the PGA Tour. He has won four times each at Augusta National and Torrey Pines.

His latest winning streak required more than a little luck. Woods has won his last four starts, his longest winning streak since he won six in a row at the end of the 1999 season and the beginning of 2000.

That was Woods at his peak, and he might be heading there again. He doesn't always win easily, but he finds a way.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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