The one missing accomplishment on Tiger Woods' resume remains elusive. Woods flirted with a 59 on Friday before settling for a 9-under par 61 to take a seven-shot lead into the weekend at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
Woods dismantled a track he loves, tying his own course record on the storied South Course at Firestone and putting himself in prime position to win this event for the eighth time. Tiger stood at 9-under through 13 after an eagle and seven birdies — that's a picture of his scorecard after his fourth straight birdie to start the back nine — but makeable birdie tries at 15 and 16 failed to drop, leaving him with a 61 that tied his own course record, as well as matching his personal best in professional competition.
It shouldn't be all that surprsing. Woods' record in this tournament stands apart from anything the game has ever seen. It's simply jaw-dropping. For a decade, Tiger put an MMA-style chokehold on storied Firestone, leaving competitors flailing. Between 1999 and 2009, Woods played the Bridgestone 10 times, missing the 2008 tournament with injury. In those 10 years, he won the tournament seven times. That's an acceptable percentage for free throws. For golf tournaments, it's insane.
The three years Woods failed to win, he finished 4th, T4 and T2. Over a 10-tounament span, that's an average finish of 1.7. Let all that sink in for a minute. The WGC events assemble the greatest fields in world golf. The Firestone South course layout is a classic track that has hosted three PGA Championships. Woods has treated the tournament, the course and the field like he was Steve Williams and they were pesky photographers.
Over those 10 tournaments, from 1999-2009, Woods won $9,352,500. That number would rank sixth on an all-time list of single-season earnings, and Woods accumulated it in 10 tournaments. Over that span, Woods averaged 67.5 strokes per round on a course that Arnold Palmer once dubbed a "Monster." Basically, it's his best tournament. Heck, it's probably the best tournament for any player in the game's history. And he's a good bet to win it for the eighth time.
- by Rob Doster
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