Tue, 08 Mar 2005


Woods on top of the world after Doral win

Agencies, Miami

Tiger Woods reclaimed the top spot in golf's world rankings Sunday, shooting a final-round 6-under 66 and winning a dramatic duel with Phil Mickelson that came down to the last shot at the Ford Championship.

Woods sunk a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take the lead, then a 6-foot par putt on 18 to beat Mickelson by one stroke and climb atop the rankings for the first time since September.

Mickelson, coming off dominant victories in his last two stroke-play tournaments, had a chance to force a playoff or possibly win on the 18th. His 30-foot chip looked good all the way, but caught the lower lip. He closed with a 69.

"The whole day, we were going at each other," Woods said. "It was fun to be a part of that."

The showdown exceeded the expectations of a battle between two of the biggest names in golf, with a sellout crowd watching wild momentum changes on the back nine of the Blue Monster.

Woods reached the 603-yard 12th hole for the second time in two days for an eagle to take a two-shot lead. Mickelson answered with consecutive birdies to catch him.

Mickelson looked like he had control of the tournament until he missed a 5-foot par putt on the 16th, and then Woods delivered like he usually does with two clutch putts.

Woods, who earned US$990,000 for his second victory of the year, finished at 24-under 264 to break by one shot the tournament record at Doral, previously held by Jim Furyk (2000) and Greg Norman (1993). This is the sixth PGA Tour event where Woods has at least a share of the 72-hole record.

Vijay Singh, who had been No. 1 the last 26 weeks after beating Woods in a Labor Day duel outside Boston, closed with a 66 to finish third, five shots behind, along with Zach Johnson (67).

The loss ended Mickelson's streak of 10 consecutive rounds in stroke play atop the leaderboard.

In Huixquilucan, Mexico, Annika Sorenstam rallied to win her first LPGA tour event of the year, shooting a 4-under 68 in windy conditions on Sunday for a three-stroke victory in the inaugural MasterCard Classic.

Sorenstam had eight birdies -- five in a row on holes 2-6 -- to offset four bogeys on the high-altitude Bosque Real Country Club course.

The Swede, also playing for the first time since filing for divorce from David Esch, won her 57th LPGA tour title, finishing at 7-under 209. Last year, she won eight tour events and two international titles.

"I'm looking forward to the rest of the season," Sorenstam said. "I wanted everybody to know that I'm ready to play and ready to go."

Karrie Webb, the ANZ Ladies Masters winner last week in Australia, had a 70 to finish second. Second-round leader Cristie Kerr shot a 75 to match South Korea's Han Hee-won (71) at 3 under, and Mexican Lorena Ochoa (68) rallied to finish fifth at 2 under. Rookie Paula Creamer (68) and Michelle Redman (72) were 1 under.