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In such a short space of historical time, we have seen some magnificent feats from the World’s best golfer and yesterday at The Bay Hill Invitational, Tiger Woods gave his fans…and his critics…a special session on the back nine of the Orlando course as he pipped Phil Mickelson to the title by one shot.
And the shot that he played to set up the winning birdie putt at the notorious final hole was one of the best ever seen from Woods in his short but stunning career.
His victory at the 1997 Masters was the making of the legend and last year was supposedly the icing on the cake as he completed the grand slam of winning all four majors and during those tournaments, we have seen some amazing shots.
|A win at long last for tiger|
But with a swing that seemed to be faltering as the pressure was on, Woods pulled out two miracle shots that he needed to firstly tie with Mickelson, who had set the clubhouse lead on 14-under par and then a shot of incredible proportions to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Woods began the day with a comfortable two shot lead over Sergio Garcia but the Spaniards hopes of his first PGA Tour title diminished after a triple bogey eight at the par five sixth hole.
Garcia could not recover as Woods scrambled his way around the next few holes with some clutch putting for par and it would be Mickelson who would take up the mantle as the best hope from the rest of the field.
Mickelson charged hard over the back nine and closed with a 6-under 66, thanks to a magnificent recovery at the last hole when he was 82-yards short of the green in two shots.
The World number two had to pitch across the rocks of the notorious 18th hole to a lethal pin position. But the man with arguably the sharpest short game on the planet showed why he was so good with a wedge in his hands as he stiffed his approach to set up a valuable par at the closing hole.
At this point, Woods was one shot behind after he made an unlikely birdie at the 16th hole.
With some erratic driving all day, Woods found the deep rough from the tee and many thought the green was out of range for a two putt birdie. But with brute strength and a classic flyer lie, Tiger played perhaps the shot of the week, not only finding the green, but the correct, upper level to set up an easy two putt birdie to tie the lead.
Mickelson had closed out on 14-under and Woods needed a par on the last hole to set up a playoff. But his driver misbehaved once more as he pull-hooked it into the crowd, just yards from the out-of-bounds markers and was lucky to receive a drop on a perfect firm lie.
If the shot at the 16th was incredible, the second shot to the 18th was out of this world, rivalling the famous bunker shot at the 18th during the Canadian Open last year when he defeated Grant Waite, who, by the way, finished third yesterday.
His second shot was 195-yards of sheer terror, over water, rocks and to a pin placement perched precariously at the far end of the slick and sloping green.
Woods made it look easy, as he often does with a five iron to within 15-feet to set up a dramatic winning birdie putt and his first victory this year…timely!
"It's always nice to win," Woods said. "It was not a pretty round of golf, but I got the ball in the hole. I was able to get some wonderful breaks down the stretch."
Mickelson took it on the chin as he thought he did just enough to at least warrant a playoff place. But as he said:
"I felt like I did what I needed to do to ultimately win. Tiger just did the same."
Woods earned $630,000 for his 25th career victory in just his 96th start on the PGA TOUR.
Grant Waite finished four shots further back in third ahead of a group of four players on 279, including Masters champion Vijay Singh, Greg Norman and Sergio Garcia.
|Bay Hill Invitational|
|Finished||Player||R1||R2||R3||R4||Total Score||To Par|
|T 4||STEVE LOWERY||68||70||70||71||279||-9|
|T 4||VIJAY SINGH||71||70||66||72||279||-9|
|T 4||GREG NORMAN||69||71||68||71||279||-9|
|T 4||SERGIO GARCIA||71||66||68||74||279||-9|
|T 8||DENNIS PAULSON||66||75||69||70||280||-8|
|T 8||SCOTT HOCH||68||72||69||71||280||-8|
|T 8||PAUL GOYDOS||68||68||73||71||280||-8|
|T 8||JEFF SLUMAN||67||74||68||71||280||-8|
|T 8||LEE JANZEN||67||72||69||72||280||-8|
|T 8||CHRIS PERRY||71||66||69||74||280||-8|
|T34||GREG CHALMERS *||71||70||73||72||286||-2|
|T34||RETIEF GOOSEN *||72||72||71||71||286||-2|
|T34||TRIPP ISENHOUR *||69||72||75||70||286||-2|
|T34||ROBERT ALLENBY *||72||72||74||68||286||-2|
|T40||TIM HERRON *||68||72||73||74||287||-1|
|T40||JOE OZAKI *||74||71||69||73||287||-1|
|T43||KENNY PERRY *||73||72||69||74||288||E|
|T43||JAY DON BLAKE *||72||72||73||71||288||E|
|T47||LOREN ROBERTS *||72||71||71||75||289||1|
|T47||PETER JACOBSEN *||73||72||71||73||289||1|
|T47||JEAN VAN DE VELDE *||69||76||72||72||289||1|
|T47||BRAD FAXON *||75||70||75||69||289||1|
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