Return to the Golf Today Home PageAll the latest golf newsCoverage of all the worlds major toursFor all your golfing needsGolf Course DirectoryOut on the courseGolf related travelWhats going on, message board, links and more!
Worldwide Feature Articles
Top Stories
PGA: Stephen Ames coasts to six shot win
PGA: Tiger Woods ends difficult week with 75
Euro: Van de Velde ends 13 year victory wait
Stephen Ames vaults to World No. 27
Boost for the Philippine Open
Tiger Woods misses practice to be with father

Woodson target for 5th consecutive money title

The last time Tiger Woods faced this kind of pressure in the fall, he was a 20-year-old college dropout who had only seven tournaments to earn a job on the PGA Tour.

Woods won the '96 Las Vegas Invitational in his fifth start as a pro to earn a two-year exemption. Then, he won again at Disney to qualify for the Tour Championship, still one of the most remarkable feats in his career.

Seven years later, the stakes are slightly different -- but not the results.

Woods is going after an unprecedented fifth straight PGA Tour money title, and figured he needed to win at least once more for a chance to be voted PGA Tour player of the year for a record fifth straight time.

Equipped with a new driver and renewed confidence in his swing, Woods took a big step toward both awards by winning the American Express Championship against a world-class field on a golf course that produced the third-highest winning score this year.

``How are you going to beat him from here?'' said Stuart Appleby, who finished in a tie for second at Capital City Club along with Vijay Singh and Tim Herron. ``It would have to be a strong finish for contenders the next couple of weeks.''

The victory was worth $1.05 million -- the 11th time Woods has cashed a seven-figure check -- and returned him to the top of the money list for the first time in two months.

As for his player of the year chances?

He didn't win a major for the first time since 1998, but neither did Singh and Davis Love III, the guys directly behind him on the money list. Mike Weir captured the Masters among his three victories; Jim Furyk won the U.S. Open but has only one other title this year.

Woods won for the fifth time this year, tops on the PGA Tour, and became the first player in history to win at least five times in five straight seasons.

What made his victory in the World Golf Championship even more impressive is, similar to 1996, he could not afford to leave Atlanta with anything but a trophy.

Singh has played eight more times than Woods this year and had a $475,000 lead over him on the money list.

Woods already had made it clear last month at the Deutsche Bank Championship that he would not add tournaments to his schedule just for the sake of trying to win the money list. After opening with a 67 at the American Express Championship, two strokes off the lead, he stuck by those words.

He said he would play only Disney and the Tour Championship, ``and then I'm done.''

There was speculation that Woods might add the Chrysler Championship in Tampa -- the week between Disney and the Tour Championship -- if he turned in a mediocre performance at Capital City Club.

In the parking lot after his opening round, when someone mentioned his defiance about playing only twice more this year, he simply smiled.

Was Tampa ever a consideration?

Woods shook his head.

He must have known what was coming. Woods proceeded to turn his best round of the year in a stroke-play tournament -- a 4-under 66, eight shots better than the course average for the second round -- to build a five-shot lead.

There were a few dicey moments on the weekend, especially on Sunday when he missed back-to-back fairways starting on No. 9 and made two straight bogeys, but Woods never lost the lead.

While the key was making three clutch pars on the back nine, no shot was more important than his 338-yard drive down the middle of the fairway on No. 11, especially coming off two bad drives.

``Things were getting a little bit tight there,'' he said. ``I was walking to the tee and telling myself to just trust it, and I did. I just bombed that tee shot down there.''

The new driver -- his third of the year and the largest club he has used in competition -- got most of the attention last week, but the most important aspect of using the Nike Ignite prototype was confidence.

``Does this driver go farther? Yes, but not as much as people might think,'' Woods said. ``It just frees me up, and now I can let go again instead of having both hands on the wheel (and trying to steer the ball). As I started feeling more comfortable, I started letting go, which was producing more distance.''

More importantly, he is more consistent moving the ball with a sweeping draw, his favorite tee shot.

Woods returns home for two weeks of practice before resuming his quest at Disney, a tournament he has won twice and finished third two other times. Then, it's off to Champions in Houston for the Tour Championship, a big golf course that puts a premium on driving. Woods won there at the end of the '99 season.

Furyk is the only player among the top five playing in Las Vegas this week.

Love will play the following week in Greensboro.

Then, it's a sprint to the finish.

And with one clutch week against the best in the world, Woods got off to a strong start.

This years news archive | Email this page to a friend | Return to top of page