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Tiger tames course and wildlife to win 8th Bridgestone title

Not even a stray squirrel could stop the world number one on Sunday.

Not a birdie, a squirrel.
Not a birdie, a squirrel.
Image: YouTube screengrab

TIGER VERSUS SQUIRREL may not be the next big SyFy movie but the rodent provided the world number one’s only real opposition as he resolutely defended his seven shot final day lead.

The result immediately raises expectations that Woods could end his major title drought at next week’s PGA Championship.

Indeed, the final round at Firestone Country Club was virtually a formality and Woods made sure he didn’t put a foot wrong in his victory march.

In blustery conditions, Woods posted an even-par 70 that included one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars.

Not even a stray squirrel on 13 could derail him.

YouTube: pgatour

“Today I was just conservative, just tried to make pars,” said Woods, who had given himself a seven-stroke lead on Friday with a nine-under par second round of 61 and maintained his cushion on Saturday.

“I figured the highest score I could shoot today was going to be 70 and force the guys to have to shoot 63s and 62s,” said Woods. “I felt this was a perfect day to protect.”

With his eighth Bridgestone title, Woods matched the record for most victories at one event on the US PGA Tour that he shares with Sam Snead. Woods has also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times.

He took his tally of US tour titles to 79, and, with his fifth title of the season, he ensured that he’ll go into the final major championship of the season at Oak Hill next week favored to add a 15th major to his resume.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Woods, who practiced at Oak Hill earlier in the week.

“I’ve got three more days to get ready and I feel like my game is pretty consistent. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed this year is that I’ve hit it pretty good most of the year, and the weeks I’ve putted well I’ve been able to win. So it’s been pretty good so far.”

Woods has won the Bridgestone and the PGA Championships in the same year three times — in 2000, 2006 and 2007.

Woods, chasing Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major titles, last won one of golf’s Grand Slam events at the 2008 US Open.

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There was no better place for him to warm up for Oak Hill than Firestone, a course that Woods said “just fits my eye”.

He led by as many as nine during the round, but was happy to finish on 15-under par 265, seven strokes in front of 2012 champion Keegan Bradley and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

Bradley carded a final-round 67 and Stenson a 70, but no one got within six shots of Woods all day on a Firestone course playing tougher as it dried out.

“It’s very tough to give Tiger that many shots,” Bradley said. “The round he shot on Friday was pretty special. You know, I hate to sit here and go on and on about how good he is, but he is.”

Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner shared fourth place on six-under 274.

Additional reporting from AFP.

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Steve O'Rourke

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