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Tiger Woods wraps up amazing season

Tiger Woods loaded his clubs into the trunk of his car and headed off to the mountains for a week of skiing with his family, finally able to put an end to a remarkable year filled with triumph and tragedy.

As usual, he had to make room for a trophy.

This one shows a tiger with his paw resting on a globe, fitting in two ways. He is the tournament host of the Target World Challenge that he won Sunday by four shots over U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. And the world of golf is under his thumb.

"It's pretty impressive to win half your tournaments," Davis Love III said.

Woods won 8-of-15 on the PGA Tour, including the last two majors and two World Golf Championships. He was 2-of-2 in the silly season, the 36-hole Grand Slam of Golf and the Target World Challenge. And he won once overseas, his second start of the year in Dubai.

That adds to 11 wins in 21 starts with a trophy on the line.

Woods looks at 2006 in two halves. He spent the first six months watching his father's health rapidly deteriorate, standing at his gravesite May 5 two days after Earl Woods died of cancer, then taking nine weeks off to grieve.

The last half he considers his best golf ever.

Since missing the cut in the U.S. Open -- his first tournament back and his first weekend off at a major as a pro -- Woods never finished worse than second in stroke play, including six straight victories on the PGA Tour.

The benchmark always has been 2000, when his nine PGA Tour victories included three straight majors.

"I think if you compare the two years, I think this year would have to be better because of, obviously, things I've been dealing with off the golf course," Woods said. "In 2000, I didn't have to deal with that. Hey, life is full of mysteries and you've got to deal with things as they come. Who's to know that if Dad didn't struggle and end up passing that I wouldn't have played that well in the summer."

When he returns to work remains a mystery.

He skipped the final five PGA Tour events -- including the Tour Championship -- and has not said whether he will start his 2007 season at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii on Jan. 4, or wait until the Buick Invitational three weeks later.

Whenever he returns, expectations will be as high as ever. And even though this tournament was unofficial, it was another reminder that Woods was on top of his game.

"To play four rounds against a quality field like this and come out on top, it always gives you a shot of confidence going into next year," Woods said.

December 19, 2006

 




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