CARLSBAD (California): World number one Tiger Woods (pic) captured his second title in three events since returning from knee surgery, defeating David Toms 2 and 1 in Sunday's 36-hole World Match Play Championship final.
I was fortunate to have come out on top, said Woods. I missed a lot of putts. I'm stoked about it. But this was one long, tough week.
Woods, the reigning US Open and Masters champion, collected US$1.05 million first-place prize money at the US$6 million-event.
The 27-year-old American has eight major victories but had never won this event. He lost in the final three years ago to Darren Clarke and got knocked out in last year's first round.
Woods won in spectacular fashion two weeks ago at nearby Torrey Pines and shared fifth last week in Los Angeles. Those were the first events for Woods since his left knee operation on Dec 12. The knee still bothers him a bit.
It's a little bit sore, but it's more of a good soreness, Woods said. Winning makes it feel better.
This marked the first time in the five-year history of the event that two top-10 seeds had advanced to the final, but neither Woods nor Toms played great in the final showdown.
Woods won the match with a five-foot putt on the 17th hole of the second round after recovering from his second shot which landed in the bunker. Woods made the short putt, raised both arms in the air, then shook hands with Toms.
It took eighth-ranked Toms a full 18 holes to get warmed up on Sunday. Woods jumped out to such a big lead early that it looked for a while like Toms should have pleaded food poisoning and called it a day.
Toms, the 2001 PGA champion, advanced to the final despite being slowed by a bout of food poisoning this week. He spent a couple of hours early on Friday in a hospital emergency ward after a chicken and shrimp meal at a restaurant.
Woods got another birdie on the sixth hole then recorded bogeys on eight and nine to let Toms back into the match at 2 up heading into the final backside.
Woods could have had another birdie on the par-four fourth hole of the second round if it hadn't been for a bee.
Woods explained. On my last look, I didn't see him. I hit the putt and looked up and it (ball) was about two feet from the bug and was headed right for the middle of the hole. It caught the right side of him and, boop, it kicked to the right. AFP