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Woods Cruises to Eighth Title at Firestone
After firing a course-record-tying 9-under 61 Friday, Tiger Woods forged a seven-stroke lead in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and cruised home from there over the weekend.
The game's top-ranked player carded a 68 Saturday to maintain that huge edge over the elite field, then shot an even-par 70 to finish at 15-under 265 to win for the fifth time this year and the eighth time at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Finishing a distance second at 272 were defending champion Keegan Bradley, who carded a 67, and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who shot a 70.
The eighth victory in the same event matched his tying mark with Sam Snead (Greater Greensboro Open) set earlier this year in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It was also Woods's 79th career win, which puts him only three behind "Slammin' Sammy" on the Tour's all-time win list.
After all his fireworks on Friday, Woods had a relatively ho-hum final round, recording a birdie and a bogey en route to his even-par closing score. After he parred the 18th, he picked up his young son, Charlie - who was wearing a facsimile of Tiger's Sunday-red polo shirt, and carried the youngster to the scorer's tent.
"He's never seen me win," Woods later said during a TV interview. "He's never been around when I won a tournament. It was special for both of us."
Woods will be the favorite as the Tour moves on to the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. He will be seeking his first major - and the long-awaited 15th of his storied career - since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Bradley, for one, knows how tough it is for a player of Woods's caliber to be caught with such a huge lead. "It's very tough to give Tiger that many shots," Bradley told PGATour.com. "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. It's difficult because I really want to get up there and contend with him, but . . . this week he's playing really well."
Woods will be paired with Bradley and Davis Love III in the opening round at Oak Hill.
Tied for fourth at Firestone at 6-under 274 were Americans Zach Johnson (67) and Jason Dufner (71), and 49-year-old Spaniard, Miguel Angel Jimenez (69). Another stroke back were Bill Haas and England's Chris Wood, who each had 71s.
Sharing ninth at 276 were Germany's Martin Kaymer, who matched Sunday's low round of 66, Jim Furyk (68) and South Africa's Richard Sterne (68). Also shooting 66s were Webb Simpson, Russell Henley and Billy Horschel, who finished tied for 14th, T27 and T44, respectively.
Other scores included a 71 by reigning British Open champion, Phil Mickelson, who ended up T21 at 1-over 281. "I wasn't as sharp this week as I needed to be, as I need to be next week," Mickelson told PGATour.com.
Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters' winner, posted a 71 to end up tied for 14th at 278, while reigning U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose, had a 69 to end up at 279 in a tie for 19th. No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy closed with a 72 for a 72-hole total of 282.
For all the scores, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/bridgestone-invitational/leaderboard.html.