Tiger's lengthy run impresses his peers

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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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is there no end
is there no end 03/18/08 - 09:05 am
i am truely proud of all that

i am truely proud of all that this young man has accomplished he is fun to watch he leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat with some of his comebacks and wins great job Tiger. Keep up the good work .

sjgraci 03/18/08 - 09:47 am
Tiger Woods is the Greatest

Tiger Woods is the Greatest athelete in the world.

Hiru 03/18/08 - 12:45 pm
Tiger is the best Golfer in

Tiger is the best Golfer in the world, not the best athlete. THe best athlete in the world is Ladanian Tomlinson. Golfers are not on the same par with any other professional sport athletically, and that includes Mr. Woods. He is the greatest Golfer of all time, but not the best athlete.

sjgraci 03/18/08 - 04:53 pm
Wow what a ridiculous

Wow what a ridiculous statement. You can argue that LaDanian Tomlinson is the greatest athlete in the world but you lose credibility with ignorant comments like, "golfers are not on the same par (nice pun) with any other professional sport athletically". With that same illogical reasoning, I guess you'd say pitchers and DHs in the American League are not athletes because all they do is pitch and hit, or that offensive lineman in the NFL are not athletes because they just block, or that goalies in the NHL are not athletes because they just stop pucks, or that sprinters are not athletes because they only run a 100 meters. As great as Tomlinson's many accomplishments are, they do not compare to that of Woods'. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the AP, folks that know a thing or two about athletes, have named Woods Athlete and Sprtsman of the Year a total of 10 times. Tomlinson has been awarded that title once. The way Woods is playing this year, look for him to win it three more times. Woods is a super human freak. He is something that comes along once in a lifetime. A Jordan, Ali, or Gretzky. He would have been a great athlete in any sport he chose. And I am not even a huge fan of his.

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