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Tiger Woods wins WGC Bridgestone Invitational

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TIGER Woods capitalised on a Padraig Harrington disaster to win the WGC Bridgestone Invitational by four strokes yesterday.

Irishman Harrington led with three holes to play, but ran up a triple-bogey at the par-five 16th after pitching his fourth shot from the rough beyond the green into a pond.

Woods made a tap-in birdie at the same hole after a magnificent eight-iron approach shot to bolt three shots clear.

Woods closed in style with a birdie at the last to shoot 65 and finish at 12-under 268, while Australian Robert Allenby (66) surged into a tie for second with Harrington (72) on eight-under.

It was the world No. 1's seventh victory at Firestone, his 16th in 30 starts in the World Golf Championships series, and 70th career win. With back-to-back victories, it also showed he was on track to capture his first major of the year at this week's US PGA Championship at Hazeltine.

Harrington, the US PGA champion, said he was a little rushed playing the 16th, after he and Woods were given a slow-play warning.

"I had an awkward shot and I probably rushed it a bit as well, and that was the end of that," he said. 

"It was a tough shot on a downslope. You've got to swing at it and hit it and I just it poorly. I just didn't get under it enough and it came out strong."

Harrington found an ally in Woods, who criticised rules official John Paramor for ruining their battle.

"I don't think Paddy would have hit the pitch shot that way if he was able to take his time, look at it, analyse it, but he was on the clock. Had to get up there quickly and hit it," Woods said.

But Paramor defended his decision, saying the final pair were 17 minutes behind schedule at the 16th tee.

Allenby, meanwhile, was delighted to record his best result of the year, although he was too far back to win.

"I always felt too far back," said Allenby, who rated it his best putting week since he won the Australian triple crown - Open, Masters and PGA - in 2005. He used the "claw" grip for the first time.

"When you feel good with the putter the rest of your game starts clicking," Allenby said.

"Now I've got some confidence. I haven't putted that good for a long time but, more importantly, my demeanour all week has been good."

Allenby was the only Australian in the top-20, with Mathew Goggin and Geoff Ogilvy equal 22nd on even-par.

Allenby also joined Ogilvy in Greg Norman's International team for October's Presidents Cup against the US.

"I've missed the past couple and it didn't hurt me. I caught a lot of fish in those weeks," Allenby said. "Maybe it's not (always) important to be on the team, but this time it is, because Greg is the captain.

"This one and the next (at Royal Melbourne in 2011) are the two teams I want to be on."

Earlier, Woods began the day three shots behind Harrington, but wasted no time taking the lead, picking up an eagle and three birdies on the front nine to go two ahead at the turn.

But Harrington birdied the 10th and took the lead four holes later after Woods compiled consecutive bogeys at the 13th and 14th holes.

 1. Jack Nicklaus
Nicklaus did not dominate his contemporaries quite like Tiger dominates his, but his contemporaries included a couple guys named Arnold Palmer and Gary Player (not to mention Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson). Jack still managed 18 major championship victories - nearly twice as many as the next guy on the list. He finished second in majors even more times than that. He's No. 2 to Tiger in terms of peak value, but he's still No. 1 for the value of his career as a whole.
• Extra: Take the Jack Nicklaus Quiz

2. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is the most talented golfer ever to play the game. So why is he No. 2 instead of No. 1 on this list? Because he's still very early in his career. The question to ask about an active player is this: If his career ended tomorrow, where would he rank? If Tiger's career ended tomorrow, his career numbers would match up favorably with those of everyone else ... except Nicklaus. It's just a matter of time - literally - until Tiger is No. 1. For now, though, he's my runner-up.
• Extra: Take the Tiger Woods Quiz

3. Ben Hogan
Despite struggling for years on tour before breaking through, and despite having his career interrupted and cut short by a horrific auto accident, Hogan still managed nine major championship victories and 62 career wins. At his best, he left his contemporaries in the dust.

4. Bobby Jones
How great was Bobby Jones? It's not an easy question to answer. In his day, the four majors were the two Open championships - the British and U.S. - and the two Amateur championships - again, the British and the U.S. Jones won those four events 13 times and twice recorded the Grand Slam. And then retired at the age of 28. He went on to found The Masters.

5. Gary Player
Surprised it's not Arnie? Player has nine major championship wins, Palmer only seven. Player won the career Grand Slam - Palmer didn't. Sure, Palmer has more PGA Tour wins, but Player - who played tournaments around the globe - has more overall career victories.


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