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Woods defends Doral title
March 06, 2006 10:20 IST
Tiger Woods survived a stuttering finish to clinch his third victory of the year with a one-shot triumph at the Doral Championship on Sunday.
The world number one, two ahead overnight in his title defence at Doral's Blue Monster course, bogeyed the last two holes for a three-under-par 69.
That left Woods at 20-under 268, a stroke in front of fellow American David Toms and PGA Tour rookie Camilo Villegas of Colombia who carded matching 67s.
Sony Open champion Toms reeled off six birdies in relatively calm conditions at Doral and had a chance to force a playoff before three-putting for a bogey-five at the final hole.
"If I put myself there enough times, those things are going to happen, as well as other guys are going to make birdies to beat me," Woods told reporters after securing the 48th PGA Tour title of his career.
"That's the way it goes. As long as I'm there each and every time, it's not a bad place to be.
"Once David Toms had made his mistake (on 18), I just said anything in the back bleachers, right bleachers, just anything over there to the right and over the water is all I had to do, just trying to play for five. I wasn't even trying to make par."
Wayward off the tee for most of the round, Woods became the second player in the tournament's 45-year history to successfully defend the title, following compatriot Raymond Floyd in 1981.
He tightened his grip on the trophy with a birdie at the par-five first.
A prodigious drive over 300 yards at the par-four fifth and an approach to four feet set up another and Woods picked up his third shot at the par-four seventh, despite missing his sixth fairway in a row to the left.
From the rough, where he was fortunate his ball had bounced back from the trees, the 10-times major winner struck his approach to eight feet before making the putt to get to 20 under.
He then parred eight and nine to reach the turn in three-under 33, three ahead of the chasing pack.
Although Toms closed to within a stroke of the lead with birdies on 10 and 11, Woods regained his three-shot cushion with birdies on 11 and 12.
He holed a 10-footer at the par-four 11th and became the only player in the final round to reach the green in two at the 603-yard, par-five 12th where a two-putt left him at 22 under.
His advantage was again trimmed to one, however, after Toms birdied 16 and Woods dropped his first shot of the day at the par-four 17th, overrunning the green with his approach before missing a six-foot par putt.
Although Woods also bogeyed the last after finding the right greenside bunker with his approach, it was good enough to secure him victory with Toms having dropped at the same hole moments earlier.
"I had a lot of fun playing golf out there today, trying to catch Tiger Woods, getting close and ultimately not quite getting there," said Toms.
"I know I cost myself a lot of money on the last hole, but really it was all about having a chance to win."
World number four Ernie Els, back at Doral for the first time since he won the tournament in 2002, carded a 69 to tie for seventh at 13 under.
Phil Mickelson, two ahead going into the final round last year being overhauled by Woods, ended up a stroke behind the South African. The left-hander returned a 73 after double-bogeying the par-three ninth where he found water off the tee.
Among the other big names, world number three Retief Goosen fired an eight-birdie 66 to finish at 11-under 277, level with second-ranked Vijay Singh who closed with a 67.