Woods defends Grand Slam of Golf title

Tiger Woods fired a six-under-par 66 in Hawaii on Wednesday to surge past Jim Furyk and defend his title in the $1-million Grand Slam of Golf.

Woods, the world’s number-one player, captured his seventh title in eight appearances in this unofficial post-season event. He finished with a 36-hole total of eight-under 136, two shots better than Furyk, who carded a 71. Woods won $500 000.

Woods started the round three strokes off the pace but quickly applied pressure with birdies at the second and third holes.
In difficult, windy conditions, Woods said that quick start was important.

“I certainly hit it better than I did yesterday [Tuesday]. Gave myself some chances,” Woods said. “I putted well again. But, more importantly, I got the three shot lead that Jim had on me down to one for the first three holes.

“The conditions being that tough, I thought that was probably the most ideal start I could have had is to be able to pick up two shots that fast,” Woods added.

Furyk maintained his slim lead as both he and Woods birdied the par-five sixth.

Woods—winner of the British Open and PGA Championship this year—caught Furyk when he chipped in for a birdie from left of the green at the ninth—which he called “a lot of luck”.

He took the lead when Furyk missed a six-foot par putt for his first bogey of the tournament at the par-four 10th.

Amid some rain at the oceanside Poipu Bay Golf Course, Woods made a 15-foot birdie at the par-four 15th, where Furyk missed a six-footer for birdie and fell two shots back.

While Woods’s birdie at 15 seemed to seal Furyk’s fate, Woods said it was his putt to save par at the fifth that keyed his round.

“I just birdied two and three. I missed a short one there at four. I didn’t want to give any shots back that soon after I just picked up two shots on Jim. I was able to knock that one in. That basically got me going.”

Furyk, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything going. “I really struggled,” he said. “I struggled with my ball striking quite a bit. My swing was not quite as good as I would like it to be. I scrambled well, got the ball up and down well, I putted pretty well for two days. I didn’t putt nearly as well today as I did yesterday, but still got it in the hole.

“I managed to go through 36 holes only making one bogey, so I did a lot right. But I just wasn’t hitting the ball well enough and giving myself enough opportunities to make enough birdies,” he concluded.

United States Open champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia began the day one shot off the lead but carded a two-over 74 and finished at 142. That was three shots better than Canadian Mike Weir, who also had a 74.

The event is supposed to feature the winners of the year’s majors. But Masters champion and 2004 winner Phil Mickelson decided not to participate and was replaced by 2003 Masters champion Weir. 

With Woods winning two majors, Furyk was given a berth for finishing second on the PGA Tour money list. He won his only previous appearance here in 2003—the year he won the US Open.—Sapa-AFP

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