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23 Aug 2005 10:32
According to the “king” of golf, Arnold Palmer, professional golfers drive for show and putt for dough—unless you’re Tiger Woods, that is.
Woods (29) made a mockery of golf’s most famous edict when he won the $7,5-million WGC-NEC Invitational on Sunday, pocketing $1,3-million for his trouble.
The world number one admitted his putting was, at times during the final round, simply a disaster—but his driving was great.
“You know I hit the ball beautifully all day and just could not make a putt. Either I hit good putts that didn’t go in or hit just atrocious putts that weren’t even close.
It was frustrating,” admitted the American.
And his bad putts were bad.
“Hit a decent chip and just hit a terrible putt, missed that one from about four feet,” was Woods description of his bogey on three.
Five was even worse.
“Pin high, had about a 35-footer there, left that low and to the left three-and-a-half feet and missed that,” he explained.
But Woods’s new-found driving skills have released him and made him as much a danger as he was in 2000 and 2001 when he crushed the opposition with some of the best golf played in majors ever witnessed.
“If you look at my days when I had some good years, there I was always hitting two-irons off the tee and three-woods and trying to get the ball into play. Now I know I can drive the ball.
“Look at how well I drove it this week. I hit some bad shots, yes, but they are not like they used to be.
“As far as I’m hitting it and as many balls that end up the fairway and roll through, that was never the case.
“I’ve never had so much confidence to be able to pull out the driver; I did it at Baltusrol, I did it here, and I’ve done it at major championships, and that’s cool,” said Woods.
Woods new-found confidence and length was revealed at the 18th when he needed a par to assure himself his fourth WGC-NEC victory.
Woods smashed his drive 413 yards into the right trees but with only 78 yards to the flag, he was able to punch the ball between them and run it up on to the green to assure victory.
By the time Woods had pocketed his $1,3-million winner’s cheque, the official stats showed that he was second in driving—averaging 334,8 yards.
In putting, he was tied for 29th.
But when Tour officials crunched all the numbers as Woods took his earnings in seven WGC-NEC outings to $5,3-million, several figures were thrown up that are sure to bring the “fear factor” back for his rivals:
All of this has been done in only 10 years on the Tour.
The hoped showdown between world number two Vijay Singh never happened. Freshly crowned United States PGA champion Phil Mickelson faded away after an opening one-under 69.
Like Jack Nicklaus, Woods cherry-picks his tournaments—showing up only at the biggest and best.
“You’re playing against the best players in the world. That’s what gets my juices going. We don’t get a chance to face each other very often, and when we do it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
The fact that it is not very often is good news for the would-be Tiger hunters.—AFP
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