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Rose Claims WGC Title at Doral; Woods Withdraws with Leg Injury
Justin Rose closed with a 2-under 70 to edge 54-hole leader Bubba Watson, totaling 16-under 272 over four rounds to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The $8.5 million tournament took place at TPC Blue Monster Doral in Miami, Fla.
Rose had four birdies and a pair of bogeys on a blustery Sunday, while Watson, who began the last day with a three-stroke lead, struggled to a 2-over 74.
The 33-year-old Watson had a chance to force a playoff on the tough par-4 18th. But after hitting a fantastic 190-yard shot from the right rough to the green on the PGA Tour's most difficult hole, he missed a tying 10-foot birdie putt to finish a stroke back.
In winning his fourth career title the 31-year-old Rose took home the Gene Sarazen Trophy, $1.4 million and 550 FedEx Cup points. "Been a lot of hard work with my game, and it showed this week," he said during the trophy presentation.
Rose, who will move up to No. 8 in the latest World Golf Ranking to be released Monday, also tipped his cap to Watson - with whom he played three of the four rounds at Doral, noting, "I'd like to congratulate Bubba for being the face of the tournament this week."
Despite coming up short of his fourth overall victory, Watson, who ended up at 273, said he wasn't nervous but simply wayward off the tee. He hit no fairways on the front nine and found two water hazards, carding four bogeys against one birdie for a 3-over 39, and two birdies and a bogey on the back for his 2-over number.
"It wasn't nerve," Watson explained at greenside. "I just started blocking my tee shots. But I was better on the back nine."
Rory McIlroy made a valiant effort to catch the leaders, following up his 7-under 65 Saturday with a 67 to finish in solo third at 14-under 274. The 22-year-old Northern Irishman carded five birdies, an eagle on the par-5 12th and two bogeys, including one on the last. "It was pretty frustrating," McIlroy said at greenside of his finish. "But I can't complain. I played well over the weekend."
McIlroy cemented his position as the No. 1 player in golf. The 2011 U.S. Open champion, who won last week's Honda Classic, has 11 top-five finishes in his past 12 starts. "I'm in contention a lot," he told reporters later. "It was nice to win last week. It would have been nice to get another one this week. But, you know, it's very positive, putting yourself in contention to win so many times, you can take a lot from it.
"I'll look back on it tomorrow and look back at what a good weekend it was, and at least starting the day, eight shots behind, even to just give myself a chance to win was a pretty good effort. I just couldn't close it out the way I wanted to."
Tied for fourth at 13-under 275 in the tournament, which featured the top-50 players in the world, were reigning Masters' champion Charl Schwarzel (68) of South Africa and Sweden's Peter Hanson (71).
Erstwhile No. 1 Luke Donald carded his second straight 3-under 69 to share sixth at 12-under 276 with Australia's John Senden, who tied Italy's Franceso Molinari for Sunday's low round, a 7-under 65.
Donald, now ranked second behind McIlroy, said later that he could have scored lower but that the putts simply didn't fall. Yet after a slow start to his season, the player who won the money titles on both the PGA and European tours last season was pleased with how his game is rounding into shape. "I really could have got close today if I had holed a few putts," the 34-year-old Englishman said. "I had some chances from 15 feet, that kind of range, and three or four, five of them, really, that I didn't make.
"So yeah, a lot of positives, though. It's been a slow start to the year so it's nice to get back in the mix and obviously did a lot of good things this week. I don't think this is a particularly great course for me, and to come here and have a chance to win is a positive thing."
Americans Bo Van Pelt (69), Steve Stricker (69), Matt Kuchar (72) and Keegan Bradley (75) ended up sharing eighth at 277, while a shot back in a tie for 13th at 279 were Australians Aaron Baddeley (67) and Adam Scott (71), 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell (70) of Northern Ireland, Molinari and American Johnson Wagner (73).
The shot of the day was made by British player Paul Casey, who aced the 166-yard, par-3 15th with an 8-iron. After the ball rolled into the cup Casey's caddie Craig Connelly screamed with excitement, thinking his player had just won the Cadillac that was perched on a platform behind the tee. There was just one problem: the prize-winning hole was the neighboring 15th.
Casey also thought he was driving away from Doral with a new car, but he later found humor in the situation. "I don't think I've ever not wanted a ball to go in the hole," he told CBS's Eye on Golf. "I never enjoyed not winning a car so much." The ace helped give Casey a 73 and a T-51 finish at even-par 288.
Other notable scores included a 72 by third-ranked Lee Westwood, who finished at 5-under 283. Phil Mickelson, No. 12 in the world, carded his third straight 71 to end up at 3-under 285. And Sergio Garcia continued his erratic play in Miami. After opening with a 75 and a 74, the 32-year-old improved Saturday with a 68. But the Spaniard closed with a 76 to total 5-over 293 and end up tied for 60th in the 74-player field.
Besides the victory by Rose, perhaps the biggest news of the day was Tiger Woods' withdrawal. Woods was 3-over par in the final round, 10 strokes out of the lead, when he left the course after hitting his drive on the 12th. After ripping a 320-yard tee shot down the fairway on the par-5, Woods shook hands with playing partner Webb Simpson, got into a cart and headed for the parking lot.
When a member of the press asked for a comment as he departed, Woods mentioned "left leg injury." In a subsequent statement, Woods noted, "I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse. After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary."
The latest injury casts doubt on Woods' playing in next month's Masters, a major championship he's won four times. He has a history of problems with his left leg. After winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, it was revealed that he was suffering from significant knee damage that caused him to miss the remainder of the season.
His withdrawal at Doral was the third time in three years Woods has pulled out of a tournament, all attributed to problems with the leg. In last year's Masters he hurt the same Achilles tendon while hitting a shot on the 17th hole; that injury forced him to miss three months and two majors.
For all the scores, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/leaderboards/current/r473/index.html.
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