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BellSouth Classic
TPC at Sugarloaf
Duluth,Georgia
7th - 10th May 1998

Par 72 Prize Money $1.8 million

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Woods gets lucky to win for first time in ten months

Associated Press

Duluth, Georgia, 10th May 1998 - Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Woods shook off a shaky opening nine holes and held off a steady Jay Don Blake to win the $1.8 million BellSouth Classic by one stroke today, ending a 10-month winless drought on the PGA Tour.

Woods, who led Blake by three strokes entering the final round after a course-record 63 on Saturday, shot an even-par 72 with three bogeys and three birdies. All three bogeys came on the front nine.

"I didn't play all that great, but I got a couple of lucky breaks, which is what it takes,'' said Woods. "The only reason I won today is I got lucky breaks.''

Woods was referring to two holes in particular, the par-4, 465-yard ninth and the par-3, 189-yard 11th.

On both he thought he had hit his shots in the water.

On No. 9, his second shot rolled into the deep rough, but stayed out of the water about 15 feet below. Woods knocked his third shot 25 feet beyond the cup onto the green and two-putted for bogey.

"If I go in the water, it's a double bogey,'' he said.

On 11, his tee shot went over the green and landed on a hill about 30 beyond the green, barely missing the water on the left. He chipped to within four feet from high grass and made par.

"When I got past 11 and nobody was going (shooting) low, I felt I had a chance,'' said Woods. "The rest of the holes were downwind and I knew I would get a birdie somewhere.''

Woods wound up at 271, 17-under par.

Blake, who has won only once in 12 years on tour, shot a 70 with 16 pars and two birdies over the soggy, 7,259-yard TPC at Sugarloaf course to finish at 272. His birdie attempt at No. 18 from 20 feet to tie was off to the right and about one foot past the hole.

"I got aggressive on the putt and hit it right through the break,'' said Blake.

"I've been in position before where I had to wait to see if someone made a putt to tie me. I was relieved he missed it,'' said Woods.

"I'm sure he (Woods) wasn't pleased with the way he played, but I didn't do anything to get him,'' said Blake, who earned $194,400 after missing the cut in his two previous tournaments.

"Everytime I thought I had a chance, he would do something to save himself,'' said Blake.

Esteban Toledo and Steve Flesch tied for third place three shots back at 274. Toledo had a 67 and Flesch a 69.

Scott Verplank, who shot the day's best round of 65, was among a group of five another shot back at 275.

Woods, who hadn't won on the PGA Tour since taking the Motorola Western Open last July, had a four-stroke lead after making birdie on No. 3, but bogeyed Nos. 4, 8 and 9 as Blake made nine straight pars to get within a stroke.

The win ended a string of 16 PGA Tour events without a win for Woods, who won six of his first 21 events. He earned $324,000 to increase his earnings to just over $1 million on the year in only nine tournaments. The 22-year-old had two second-place finishes and a third in his previous eight starts in 1998.

It was Woods's seventh PGA Tour win in 37 events since joining the tour in 1996 and raised his career earnings to $3.8 million.

Woods equaled the best round of his three-year pro career Saturday, but could never shake Blake today. After shooting 2-over on the front nine, getting a birdie on No. 3 to take a four-stroke lead, Woods steadied on the back nine with two birdies and the seven pars, saving par on 14-15-16 with four-foot putts.

He birdied the par 5, 608-yard 10th hole with an easy tap-in putt after reaching the green in two, but Blake matched that with a 4-foot birdie putt. Woods then took a two-shot lead at No. 13 with a birdie, but Blake got that back with his only other birdie on No. 15.

Stewart Cink, in the final threesome with Woods and Blake, was four strokes back at the start, got within one stroke of Woods on the front nine with a 1-under 35 before going 1-over on the back for a 72 and 275, tied for fourth.

Woods was playing in his first tournament since The Masters last month where he tied for eighth. .


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