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Great season for DiMarco, but without wins

As Chris DiMarco celebrated his 37th birthday on Tuesday, he could reflect on what by several yardsticks has been a superb season on the 2005 PGA Tour.

With plenty of golf to be played before the season-ending Tour Championship in early November, the American lies seventh in the U.S. money list with earnings of $3.21 million.

He also occupies seventh spot in the official world rankings, having climbed six spots after finishing second behind winner Tiger Woods at the $7.5 million WGC NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Sunday.

He can look forward to representing the U.S. team in the Presidents Cup from September 23-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Virginia but more than anything will want to celebrate his first PGA Tour win in over three years.

Virtually the only thing missing from DiMarco's season, and every season since 2002, has been a victory. This year, he has had to settle for the bridesmaid's role on three occasions.

Since his last career win at the 2002 Phoenix Open, DiMarco has earned the reputation of being golf's nearly man with a combined tally of 11 second and third place finishes in that time.

Among those was another runner-up placing behind Woods, at the U.S. Masters in April.

"Bridesmaid is getting old, I can promise you that, especially when I've played good enough to get there (to win)," said DiMarco, who also finished second behind compatriot David Toms at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February.

"This one really kind of pisses me off, though," he added, referring to Sunday's finish at Firestone Country Club.

"I felt like I played good enough to win the Masters and I felt I played good golf today.

"I was tied for the lead with three to go and he (Woods) was in the trees and I was feeling pretty good."

DiMarco began the final round at Firestone four strokes behind overnight leaders Woods and Kenny Perry but mounted an early charge with birdies on three of his first six holes before adding another on the 11th.

Despite a stumble coming home with back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 and another on 17, DiMarco briefly took the lead to put Woods under pressure.

The world number one, however, refused to crack and sealed his win with a clutch birdie on 16 and a par-par finish for a winning total of six-under-par 274, one shot ahead of a dejected DiMarco.

"Once he (Woods) hit the second shot on 18, I went up and took a shower," shrugged DiMarco, who closed with a two-under 68.

"Sure, there's always hope. But unfortunately if you're hoping for him to make a bogey, you didn't do what you needed to do out there.

"Who would have thought me shooting two under and him being four shots ahead of me that I would have had a chance."

Regarded as one of the PGA Tour's grittiest competitors, Ryder Cup player DiMarco does not happily settle for second best.

Bridesmaid, however, is a tag that has become attached to the American, whose string of second placings includes a playoff loss to Vijay Singh at last year's U.S. PGA championship.

With this year's Masters title within his grasp, DiMarco stared blankly as he watched Woods roll in an 18-foot putt on the first extra hole at Augusta National to secure his fourth green jacket.

While Woods has little time for second-place finishes himself, the world number one put a positive spin on DiMarco's performance last week as he basked in the glow of his fifth win of the season.

"I think consistently coming close proves a lot, that he's got the game to be there, and it's just a lucky break here or there and it's one shot over a week," said Woods.

"It's just one lucky bounce or you make a putt that turns the tide, something like that.

"But he's got the game to be consistently a factor in just about every tournament he plays in, whether it's a major championship, World Golf Championships (WGC), or a regular Tour event.

"That says a lot. That's what he can take from this."


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