Woods picked a good time to get back on track

MIAMI – Tiger Woods felt stiffness in his neck from a bad night of sleep on his boat.

For the first time in 3 1/2 years, he couldn’t break par when he had entered yesterday with the lead. And he played so cautiously on the final hole of the CA Championship that the outcome was in doubt for as long as it took a 50-foot par putt to settle a few feet from the cup.

In his eyes, it was an ideal way to prepare for the Masters.

“You can’t have any better way – getting a ‘W’ right before you go,” Woods said after a two-shot victory over Brett Wetterich.

Forget the details and consider the big picture.

He was so dominant at Doral that he didn’t have to break par. He built such a commanding lead on a warm, blustery afternoon that the smartest play was to hit 3-iron off the tee, 8-iron to lay up and wedge some 50 feet beyond the cup on the demanding 18th hole.

“It looked easy to him out there today,” Wetterich said.

Woods said it was a struggle, but he got the momentum he wanted heading into the first major of the year. He won his 31st straight PGA Tour event when leading going into the last round, never letting anyone closer than four shots until the final three holes.

He closed with a 1-over 73, only the sixth time in his career he has won by shooting over par in the last round.

“I figured if I shot under par, it would be over,” he said. “Didn’t quite get it done, but ended up winning, anyways.”

And everyone knew it.

“If he’s not already, he’s getting pretty close to being the best golfer of all time,” U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy said. “It’s fun watching. He’s just a better player.”

They can move this World Golf Championship around country and continents, change its name and stick it in a different spot on the calendar. It doesn’t matter. Woods still seems to wind up with the trophy.

Woods won this event for the sixth time, more than any other tournament. And while the others are held on courses he owns, Woods is believed to be the first player to win a tournament six times on six courses – in Spain, Ireland, Atlanta, San Francisco, London and Miami, the latter on a Blue Monster course where he has won the last three years.

“I love this golf course,” he said. “And when it was decided that we were going to come here, I just through that this was a wonderful opportunity for me to win the championship.”

He finished at 10-under 278 and earned $1.35 million for his second victory of the year, and 56th of his career.

“He’s good on Bermuda, good in wind, good in no wind, he’s good on bent grass. He’s just a good player,” Ogilvy said.