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With bit of drama, Woods keeps win streak rolling

Tiger Woods receives the trophy from tournament namesake Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill in Orlando.

Associated Press

Tiger Woods receives the trophy from tournament namesake Arnold Palmer at Bay Hill in Orlando.

ORLANDO — Tiger Woods studied his 25-foot birdie putt from every angle, convincing himself he could make it to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational because he had a similar putt in the same situation seven years ago at Bay Hill.

He wasn't alone in his thinking.

Palmer stood behind the 18th green, waiting to hand him the trophy. The King was joined by an army of fans who squinted into the late afternoon sun, all expecting Woods to continue a winning streak that began in September.

And then there was Bart Bryant, who challenged Woods over the final two hours but now sat in the scoring trailer and listened.

"I heard a big cheer, and I got up and left," Bryant said. "That's why he's Tiger Woods."

Tied for the lead on one of the most intimidating closing holes in golf, Woods delivered his best swing of the week with a 5-iron from 164 yards into a stiff breeze, then rolled a 25-foot birdie putt that tumbled into the cup to stretch his PGA Tour win streak to five.

It was his 64th victory, tying Ben Hogan at No. 3 on the tour's career list.

And it produced a celebration like none of the others. Woods backpedaled as the ball crept closer to the hole, turned and slammed his cap to the ground as he let out a roar. Woods looked perplexed when caddie Steve Williams handed him his hat.

"I was like, 'How in the hell did he get my hat?' " Woods said. "Evidently, it came off. I need to see the highlights. I was so into the moment of the putt going in and winning the golf tournament."

Woods closed with 4-under 66 to keep intact the ridiculous notion of a perfect season (He is 4-for-4 this season including a victory on the European Tour).

Or is it?

"What he's doing right now, you can't even fathom," Bryant said after closing with 67. He was the only player to break par all four rounds at Bay Hill, and all it got him was second place.

There have been five winning streaks of at least five tournaments in tour history. Woods owns three of them, with the others belonging to Hogan (six) and Byron Nelson, whose 11 in a row is considered among the most untouchable records in sports.

Woods, who finished at 10-under 270, won Bay Hill for the fifth time, becoming the first player in tour history to win at least five times at four tournaments. The others: Buick Invitational, Bridgestone Invitational and CA Championship, where he plays this week at Doral as the three-time defending champion.

Not since Bay Hill in 2001 against Phil Mickelson has Woods won a PGA Tour event with birdie on the 72nd hole to win by a shot.

"I kept telling myself, 'I've done this before. I did it against Phil, and this time it's a little bit deeper into the green, and the putt has a little bit more break, and it has a little more grain. I've done it before, and I can do it again,' " Woods said.

And he did.

Palmer grinned and nodded, as if to tell those around him, "I told you so."

"He just said, 'It doesn't surprise me you made the putt,' " Woods said, who passed Palmer on the career victory list a month ago in Arizona. "Somehow you just get a good feeling. And he being a player knows better than anybody."

LPGA: Friberg claims first victory on tour

HUXQUILUCAN, Mexico — Sweden's Louise Friberg won her first LPGA Tour title in her fourth career start, closing with 7-under 65 for a one-stroke victory over Yani Tseng (74) in the MasterCard Classic.

Friberg, 10 strokes behind Ji-Young Oh at the start of play after opening rounds of 72 and 73, had an eagle, six birdies and a bogey in the final round to finish at 6-under 210.

Oh closed with 79 to match top-ranked Lorena Ochoa (68) at 2 under.

European: Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell won the Ballantine's Championship when he beat Jeev Milkha Singh in a playoff in Jeju Island, South Korea. The pair started the day tied and shot 6-under 66s for 24-under 264 before McDowell prevailed when Singh missed a birdie putt on the third playoff hole.

Futures: Sunny Oh of Manhattan Beach, Calif., held on to win in a playoff at the Bright House Networks Open at Cleveland Heights Golf Course in Lakeland. Oh shot 3-under 69 in the final round to finish at 5-under 211, tying Kim Welch (71) and Chella Choi (70) in regulation. Kelly Lagedrost (71) of Brooksville and USF tied for sixth at 1-under 215. Tampa's Elizabeth Stuart (78) finished 78th at 11-over 227.

With bit of drama, Woods keeps win streak rolling 03/16/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:41am]
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