Tiger's lengthy run impresses his peers

DORAL, Fla. --- The outcome has never been more inevitable. Tiger Woods has never looked so invincible.


The world's No. 1 golfer faced a 24-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Bay Hill, and the moment he settled over the ball and the crowd grew quiet, it no longer mattered that Woods had not made a putt this long all week.

This one was for the win.

For most players, making such a clutch putt would be a career highlight. For Woods, it's more like a summer rerun.

Woods rapped his putt down the slope, then watched it turn sharply to the right and tumble into the cup for a one-shot win.

For Woods, it was the ultimate thrill.

"It's knowing that you have an opportunity to end the tournament, and it's in your hands," he said. "Whether you do it or not remains to be seen. It's like having the ball with a few seconds to go. Do you want it or not want it? I would much rather have it in my hands."

Lately, it has been nothing but net.

The Florida Swing long has been known as the road to the Masters Tournament, which is three weeks away. Woods already has his game at warp speed, and he's lapping the field. His victory Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his fifth in a row on the PGA Tour and his sixth consecutive worldwide. It's the longest such tour streak of his career.

When he won seven tour events in a row in 2006-2007, second only to Byron Nelson's 11 in 1945, Woods lost three times overseas.

Now, even the purists must wonder if anything will stop Woods from going an entire season without losing.

"You think that one of these times, he's not going to get it done," Steve Stricker said. "But he continues to do it. And now you expect it. You just learn with him that nothing is unexpected."

Woods' latest victim was Bart Bryant, who did everything right but never felt so helpless.

Bryant twice made birdie to tie Woods for the lead, shot 67 in stifling heat, and waited in the scoring trailer to see if Woods could beat him. There was no television in the trailer, and Bryant didn't need one.

He heard a roar that rattled the trailer.

"That's why he's Tiger Woods," Bryant said.

Golf is more global than it was a half-century ago, so Woods' winning streak is complicated. This is the third time he has won at least five in a row, and he also won on the European Tour in February.

And he won the Target World Challenge in December, although that doesn't count because it was a charity event with Woods as host.

Woods is so dominant that he's an incredible 16-for-25 since the 2006 British Open.

"What he's doing now, you can't even fathom it," Bryant said.

Tiger, at 32, already is tied with Ben Hogan for third in career victories with 64. The only players ahead of him are Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).

With each victory, Woods adds another layer to the legend.



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