Tiger Cruises to 17th WGC Title

There wasn't much drama Sunday at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, as Tiger Woods strolled to another victory in a World Golf Championships event. The 37-year-old carded a 1-under 71 to win the $8.75 million WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami by a comfortable two strokes.

Woods, who began the final round with a four-stroke cushion over Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, finished at 19-under 269, two shots better than good friend Steve Stricker (68) and five over Australia's Adam Scott (64), Spaniard Sergio Garcia (69), Phil Mickelson (71) and McDowell (72). Keegan Bradley (71) took solo seventh at 12-under 274.

The win was Woods' 17th in a WGC tournament. Since 1999, Woods has played in 41 WGC events and won an incredible 40 percent of those he's entered. His 76 career victories place him only six behind Sam Snead's all-time Tour record.

McDowell, who overcame a four-shot, 54-hole deficit to catch - and then overtake Woods in a sudden-death playoff - at the 2010 Chevron World Challenge, said at greenside it was tough beating Woods this time around. "The way Tiger was playing I was in chase mode," McDowell said. As for overtaking the eventually winner, the Ulsterman quipped, "The best chance I had to catch him was (Saturday)."

Woods needed only 100 putts over 72 holes this week, thanks mainly to a putting tip he received from Stricker before the start of the tournament. During the trophy presentation Woods noted, "I played well this week and thank you to Steve (Stricker) for the putting lesson.

"It was one of those weeks where I felt pretty good about how I was playing. And I made some putts and pretty much got rolling."

After three birdies on his first 10 holes to ensure a virtual runaway, Woods carded five straight pars before a meaningless pair of bogeys on the final three holes. On the week he recorded an amazing 27 birdies en route to the wire-to-wire win.

Next up for Woods is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a place where he's won seven times. If he can pull off an eighth title at Bay Hill in two weeks he'll supplant Rory McIlroy as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

McIlroy, who had struggled in his three events prior to Doral, finally got his vaunted game in gear. Opening with a 73, 69 and 71 this week in the no-cut tournament reserved for the world's top-64 players, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman closed with a 7-under 65 that included five birdies and an eagle on the par-5 second hole. Were it not for Scott's 64 - also the low round of the tournament - McIlroy would have shot Sunday's low round.

"A day like today felt like a long way away, if I'm honest," admitted McIlroy, who's been trying to overcome some swing problems and an adjustment to his new Nike clubs this season. "Just goes to show, if you get something and it works OK for you, it's not as far away as you think. That's been one of my problems: I always think when I'm playing bad that it's further away than it is.

"And I guess that's just where I have to stay patient, let whatever happens, happen, and know that if I put in the hard work, that the results will bear fruit," said McIlroy, who ended up with a piece of eighth place at 10-under 278 with defending champion Justin rose (68), Peter Hanson (70) and Michael Thompson (73).

"Whether that's sooner or later, it doesn't really matter," he told reporters. "I think most of you guys know, I probably wear my heart on my sleeve a bit with my golf. If I have a bad round, it's sort of like the end of the world, but if I play a good one, I'm happy again. That's just the way it goes. I was pretty down about my game coming into this week, but a few days like I've played, it does my confidence a world of good.

"I'm looking forward to just getting back and working on my game a bit more I guess," added McIlroy, whose next tournament will be at the Shell Houston Open in late March, two weeks prior to the Masters. "I'm not secluding myself, but sort of get away from this whole thing a bit and work on my game a bit more in peace and quiet, and get out to Houston and hopefully my game is in even better shape going into there."

Sharing 12th at 279 were South African Richard Sterne (67), Charles Howell III (71), Jason Dufner (72) and Dustin Johnson (72).

Woods has now won seven times in four different tournaments. Besides the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational, he's racked up a septet of titles in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and Farmers Insurance Open. He earned his seventh win at the latter event in late January, making his latest victory at Doral his second title of 2013.

One more win in the same tournament and he'll match the great "Slammin' Sammy," who accumulated eight Greater Greensboro Open titles between 1938 and 1965.

For complete scoring details of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, visit http://www.worldgolfchampionships.com/cadillac-championship/leaderboard.html.