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Woods stumbles, still wins Wachovia

By DOUG FERGUSON
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tiger Woods walked with a slight limp toward the 18th green. He was sore and hadn’t played his best, yet was minutes away from winning for the ninth time in his last 12 PGA Tour events.

Third-round leader Rory Sabbatini had bragged about wanting to be paired with Woods in the final group, but he, Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh couldn’t catch him. It seems nobody can – sore knee or not.

Buoyed by an eagle on the seventh hole, Woods overcame a double bogey on 13, finishing with a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a two-shot win over Stricker at the Wachovia Championship.

“I felt like overall this week I didn’t really have my best stuff, but I putted great,’’ said Woods, who finished at 13-under 275 in his first tournament since he tied for second at the Masters. “I made the majority of those par putts, and sprinkled in a couple of bombs from 20 or 30 feet.’’

And 60 feet. After narrowly missing the water with his tee shot at the seventh, Woods rolled in the long eagle attempt to get to 13 under and take the lead. He then birdied the eighth and ninth for a 31 on the front nine, moving to 15 under and taking a three-shot lead at a windy Quail Hollow.

Normally, that would be it for the world’s No. 1 player. But Woods, struggling off the tee, dropped into a tie for the lead when he hit a 4-iron into the rough and then three-putted the 13th green, while Stricker birdied 15 ahead of him.

“I figured I just let so many guys back in the tournament, gave them a shot of momentum,’’ Woods said

Instead, his competition faded, even in a major-like field that started with 27 of the top 30 in the world rankings. Woods quickly got his three-shot lead back when Stricker hit into the woods and sand for a double bogey at 16, while Woods birdied 15.

Singh, who was a shot back after Woods’ troubles at 13, bogeyed 14 and 16 and hit into the creek twice on 18 for a triple bogey. He shot 74 and finished in a three-way tie for seventh at 7-under.

And Sabbatini, who said he couldn’t wait to play with Woods in the final round, never made a charge. He started with nine consecutive pars and shot 38 on the back nine.

Sabbatini tied the course record with a Saturday 64. He finished fourshots back, tied for third with Phil Mickelson, who shot 70 but wasnever in contention.

“He got the job done today and I didn’t,’’ said Sabbatini. “I don’t have any regrets about that. I want him every week now.’’

Most wouldn’t. Able to play it safe over the final three holes – rated the toughest closing stretch on the PGA Tour the past three years – Woods parred 16, bogeyed 17 and knocked in an 8-foot par putt on 18 for his first win in three appearances at the 5-year-old tournament.

“I think just some slight changes, a few putts here and there and it’s a major change in the outcome,’’ Sabbatini said.

Woods, who collected $1.134 million for his 57th career win, moved atop the FedEx Cup standings for the first time, and is the man to beat for The Players Championship next weekend. Even if he’s starting to get aches and pains.

“I’ve been sore all week, ever since that (cold) front came in,’’ Woods said. “Yeah, old age. Welcome to the 30s, huh?’’

Stricker, looking for his first win since 2001, got into contention with a 32 on the front nine, while trying to avoid looking at the leaderboard. He shot 69, finishing at 11 under.

“I’ve had a good year up to this point and to finish second here is a bonus,’’ Stricker said. “It just shows me that I’m working on the right stuff and I’ve got the confidence to play well. I’m excited for the rest of the year.

Mickelson managed his second consecutive top-5 finish after hiring Butch Harmon as his new swing coach. But Mickelson played the easier front nine at only 1 under and never got in the running.

“I thought it would be tough for some guys to keep pace because (the wind) was difficult, and Tiger got off to a great start,’’ Mickelson said. “It looked like everybody was going to have to do something spectacular.’’

Nobody did. Stricker, Singh and Sabbatini found the water, bunkers and rough. Woods – at less than full strength – proved too strong in a tournament that has the feel of a major and 30-mph wind gusts.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve won a few tournaments here and there, and it’s been nice,’’ Woods said. “This one, considering the field and the golf course and the conditions, ecstatic to have won here.’’

But not satisfied. Woods left Quail Hollow wearing the tournament’s customary blue jacket, a winner for the third time in six events this year.

“It’s three short of where I wanted to be,’’ Woods said. “Or three short of my intent, put it that way.’’

Final scores with relation to par from the WachoviaChampionship, played May 3-6 at the par-72, 7,442-yard Quail Hollow Clubin Charlotte, N.C. (Note: FedEx Cup points in parenthesis):

1. Tiger Woods, $1,134,000 (4,500)
70-68-68-69–275 -13
2. Steve Stricker, 680,400 (2,700)
72-70-66-69–277 -11
3. Phil Mickelson, 365,400 (1,450)
70-71-68-70–279 -9
3. Rory Sabbatini, 365,400 (1,450)
70-71-64-74–279 -9
5. Stewart Cink, 239,400 (950)
70-71-69-70–280 -8
5. Anthony Kim, 239,400 (950)
72-69-69-70–280 -8
7. Ken Duke, 196,350 (779)
70-70-68-73–281 -7
7. Arron Oberholser, 196,350 (779)
69-69-69-74–281 -7
7. Vijay Singh, 196,350 (779)
67-71-69-74–281 -7
10. Bernhard Langer, 151,200 (600)
70-73-71-69–283 -5
10. Brett Quigley, 151,200 (600)
70-74-69-70–283 -5
10. Billy Mayfair, 151,200 (600)
73-71-67-72–283 -5
10. John Senden, 151,200 (600)
72-70-69-72–283 -5
14. Sergio Garcia, 116,550 (463)
71-71-70-72–284 -4
14. Trevor Immelman, 116,550 (463)
68-74-68-74–284 -4
16. Briny Baird, 91,350 (363)
72-73-70-70–285 -3
16. Fredrik Jacobson, 91,350 (363)
70-73-71-71–285 -3
16. J.J. Henry, 91,350 (363)
72-73-69-71–285 -3
16. Jose Maria Olazabal, 91,350 (363)
70-72-71-72–285 -3
16. Rod Pampling, 91,350 (363)
71-70-71-73–285 -3
16. Robert Garrigus, 91,350 (363)
72-73-67-73–285 -3
22. Carl Pettersson, 68,040 (270)
68-73-71-74–286 -2
22. Joey Sindelar, 68,040 (270)
69-72-70-75–286 -2
24. Nick Watney, 46,620 (185)
72-71-74-70–287 -1
24. Heath Slocum, 46,620 (185)
68-77-71-71–287 -1
24. J.P. Hayes, 46,620 ()
75-72-69-71–287 -1
24. Adam Scott, 46,620 (185)
73-69-73-72–287 -1
24. Robert Karlsson, 46,620 (185)
71-72-72-72–287 -1
24. Kevin Sutherland, 46,620 (185)
75-69-71-72–287 -1
24. Geoff Ogilvy, 46,620 (185)
72-73-69-73–287 -1
24. Mike Weir, 46,620 (185)
73-71-70-73–287 -1
24. Ted Purdy, 46,620 (185)
70-69-74-74–287 -1
24. K.J. Choi, 46,620 (185)
70-74-69-74–287 -1
34. Ernie Els, 29,820 (118)
71-74-73-70–288 E
34. Nathan Green, 29,820 (118)
70-76-71-71–288 E
34. Mathew Goggin, 29,820 (118)
70-73-72-73–288 E
34. Robert Allenby, 29,820 (118)
70-76-69-73–288 E
34. Stephen Marino, 29,820 (118)
74-71-70-73–288 E
34. Parker McLachlin, 29,820 (118)
71-75-69-73–288 E
34. Lucas Glover, 29,820 (118)
75-72-68-73–288 E
34. J.B. Holmes, 29,820 (118)
69-74-71-74–288 E
34. Nick O'Hern, 29,820 (118)
75-69-69-75–288 E
43. Padraig Harrington, 18,774 (75)
66-75-79-69–289 +1
43. Ben Curtis, 18,774 (75)
70-75-74-70–289 +1
43. Retief Goosen, 18,774 (75)
72-74-72-71–289 +1
43. Woody Austin, 18,774 (75)
71-74-72-72–289 +1
43. Aaron Baddeley, 18,774 (75)
71-75-71-72–289 +1
43. Camilo Villegas, 18,774 (75)
69-76-72-72–289 +1
43. Boo Weekley, 18,774 (75)
72-75-69-73–289 +1
43. Davis Love III, 18,774 (75)
74-72-67-76–289 +1
43. Jerry Kelly, 18,774 (75)
69-73-70-77–289 +1
52. Charles Howell III, 14,773 (59)
78-69-74-69–290 +2
52. Jeff Maggert, 14,773 (59)
68-74-77-71–290 +2
52. Ryuji Imada, 14,773 (59)
70-73-75-72–290 +2
52. Jason Bohn, 14,773 (59)
67-72-73-78–290 +2
56. John Rollins, 14,112 (56)
70-76-73-72–291 +3
56. Cameron Beckman, 14,112 (56)
75-72-72-72–291 +3
56. Dean Wilson, 14,112 (56)
72-75-72-72–291 +3
56. Michael Putnam, 14,112 (56)
72-70-76-73–291 +3
56. Charlie Wi, 14,112 (56)
74-68-75-74–291 +3
61. Bo Van Pelt, 13,419 (53)
77-70-75-70–292 +4
61. Lee Westwood, 13,419 (53)
72-74-74-72–292 +4
61. Charles Warren, 13,419 (53)
70-73-76-73–292 +4
61. Mark Wilson, 13,419 (53)
76-70-71-75–292 +4
61. Stephen Ames, 13,419 (53)
69-73-74-76–292 +4
61. Jeff Gove, 13,419 (53)
74-69-72-77–292 +4
67. Jeff Sluman, 12,915 (51)
71-76-73-73–293 +5
67. Steve Flesch, 12,915 (51)
70-74-71-78–293 +5
69. Robert Gamez, 12,411 (49)
75-71-73-75–294 +6
69. Brian Davis, 12,411 (49)
72-75-72-75–294 +6
69. Todd Demsey, 12,411
72-75-72-75–294 +6
69. Billy Andrade, 12,411 (49)
73-74-72-75–294 +6
69. Chris DiMarco, 12,411 (49)
74-71-73-76–294 +6
69. Henrik Stenson, 12,411 (49)
72-74-72-76–294 +6
75. Ryan Moore, 11,907 (47)
74-72-74-75–295 +7
75. Bob Tway, 11,907 (47)
72-75-71-77–295 +7
77. Cliff Kresge, 11,655 (46)
75-72-77-72–296 +8
77. Gavin Coles, 11,655 (46)
76-71-72-77–296 +8
79. Tripp Isenhour, 11,340 (45)
75-72-77-73–297 +9
79. Craig Kanada, 11,340 (45)
73-73-77-74–297 +9
79. Stephen Leaney, 11,340 (45)
75-70-75-77–297 +9
82. Shigeki Maruyama, 11,025 (44)
73-74-78-74–299 +11
82. David Berganio Jr., 11,025 (44)
69-76-71-83–299 +11
84. Zach Johnson, 10,836 (43)
71-75-75-80–301 +13

• • •
Missed the cut

86. Luke Donald 73-75–148 +4
86. Vaughn Taylor 73-75–148 +4
86. Ian Poulter 78-70–148 +4
86. Jason Gore 74-74–148 +4
86. Kirk Triplett 74-74–148 +4
91. Jonathan Byrd 77-72–149 +5
91. Pat Perez 72-77–149 +5
91. Joe Durant 73-76–149 +5
91. Hunter Mahan 73-76–149 +5
91. Glen Day 76-73–149 +5
91. Johnson Wagner 74-75–149 +5
91. Kevin Stadler 79-70–149 +5
91. George McNeill 78-71–149 +5
91. Brandt Snedeker 75-74–149 +5
91. J.L. Lewis 76-73–149 +5
101. Troy Matteson 76-74–150 +6
101. Will MacKenzie 76-74–150 +6
101. Chad Campbell 75-75–150 +6
101. Kyle Reifers 80-70–150 +6
101. D.J. Trahan 76-74–150 +6
101. Charley Hoffman 71-79–150 +6
101. Jim Furyk 71-79–150 +6
101. Joe Ogilvie 81-69–150 +6
101. Rocco Mediate 77-73–150 +6
101. David Branshaw 75-75–150 +6
101. Brendon de Jonge 71-79–150 +6
112. John Cook 73-78–151 +7
112. Mathias Gronberg 77-74–151 +7
112. John Mallinger 75-76–151 +7
112. Ryan Armour 78-73–151 +7
112. Eric Axley 79-72–151 +7
112. Tim Herron 73-78–151 +7
112. Shaun Micheel 74-77–151 +7
119. Corey Pavin 74-78–152 +8
119. Tim Petrovic 78-74–152 +8
119. Daisuke Maruyama 79-73–152 +8
119. Brett Wetterich 75-77–152 +8
119. Robert Dinwiddie 78-74–152 +8
124. Tom Pernice, Jr. 78-75–153 +9
124. Rich Beem 73-80–153 +9
124. Brad Faxon 76-77–153 +9
124. Jason Dufner 75-78–153 +9
124. Peter Lonard 73-80–153 +9
129. Scott Verplank 74-80–154 +10
129. Ryan Palmer 77-77–154 +10
131. Bill Haas 78-77–155 +11
131. Steve Lowery 78-77–155 +11
131. Justin Leonard 74-81–155 +11
131. Tommy Gainey 74-81–155 +11
135. Kent Jones 79-77–156 +12
135. Craig Perks 80-76–156 +12
135. Doug LaBelle II 80-76–156 +12
138. Greg Owen 78-79–157 +13
139. Paul Stankowski 78-80–158 +14
139. Bill McDonald 79-79–158 +14
141. Steve Isley 80-79–159 +15
141. Kelly Mitchum 78-81–159 +15
143. John Daly 74-87–161 +17
144. Todd Hamilton 81-81–162 +18
145. Jeff Quinney 83-80–163 +19
146. Ron Philo, Jr. 82-82–164 + 20
WD. David Howell 74-WD
WD. Dudley Hart WD
WD. Sean O'Hair 75-WD
WD. Darren Clarke 76-WD
WD. Kenny Perry 77-WD
WD. Richard S. Johnson 78-WD
WD. Jesper Parnevik 79-WD
WD. Paul Azinger WD
DQ. Stuart Appleby 75-77–DQ
DQ. Frank Lickliter II 75-DQ

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