Akron, OH – Sunday's final round of the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club was a walk in the park for Tiger Woods.
Having all but locked up the title with a magnificent 61 on Friday, Woods strolled his way through the weekend, carding a third-round 68 to maintain his whopping 7-stroke advantage heading into Sunday.
The final round proved a mere formality, and Woods treated it as such, opening with nine consecutive pars before rolling home an 8-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He had seven pars and a bogey the rest of the way for an even-par 70, finishing 72 holes at 15-under-par 265 and casually locking up his eighth win at this event.
"Today I was conservative, just trying to make pars ... I just felt this was a perfect day to protect," Woods said in a televised interview. "The conditions, it was blustery it was tough and it was hard to shoot a low number but it was easy to shoot a number around par."
The victory was Woods' fifth on the PGA Tour this season and first since the Players Championship in May. Since that win, the world No. 1 tied for 65th at the Memorial Tournament and shared 32nd at the U.S. Open, where he battled an elbow injury that sidelined him until the British Open. He returned in style, finishing in a tie for sixth at Muirfield, then blitzing the field this week in Akron. Now it's on to the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where the 37-year- old will try to secure his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open.
"I'm really looking forward to it," he said of heading to Oak Hill. "I've got three more days to get ready and I feel like my game is pretty consistent. That's one of the things I've noticed this year is that I've hit it pretty good most of the year and the weeks I've putted well I've been able to win. So it's been pretty good so far."
The battle for second place yielded a tie, as defending champion Keegan Bradley and Swede Henrik Stenson both finished at 8-under-par 272 on the South Course. Bradley shot 3-under 67, while Stenson, playing with Woods in the final pairing, managed an even-par 70.
"It's very tough to give Tiger that many shots," Bradley said. "The round he shot on Friday was pretty special. You know, I hate to sit here and go on and on about how good he is, but he is."
Zach Johnson carded a 67 to tie for fourth place at 6-under 274. He ended alongside Jason Dufner and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who shot 71 and 69, respectively.
Bill Haas and Chris Wood carded matching 71s to share seventh at 5-under, while Jim Furyk (68), Luke Donald (72), Martin Kaymer (66) and Richard Sterne (68) tied for ninth at minus-4.
British Open champion Phil Mickelson shot rounds of 72-71-67-71 and ended in a tie for 21st at 1-over. The left-hander had won his previous two starts, with a victory at the Scottish Open preceding his triumph at Muirfield.
Woods entered Sunday with a 52-4 record when owning at least a piece of the 54-hole lead, meaning the final result wasn't in question, just the margin of victory.
The lead was still seven when Woods made the turn, and it briefly increased to nine courtesy of his birdie roll at the 10th and Bradley's bogey at No. 12. But, as it had been after 36 and 54 holes, seven was the magic number, as Woods 3-putted for bogey at the 14th and both Bradley and Stenson later birdied the 17th.
After his lone stumble at 14, Woods continued his consistent victory march, parring his final four holes to lock up his 79th PGA Tour win, just three shy of Sam Snead's all-time mark.
NOTES: Woods has 11 top-5 finishes in 14 appearances at this tournament ... In 2000, he set the record for largest margin of victory at this event when he won by 11 strokes ... Woods is the only PGA Tour player to win two events at least eight times (WGC - Bridgestone Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational) ... Woods has posted 18 wins and 30 top-10 finishes in 41 career World Golf Championships starts ... Woods has won the PGA Championship four times, with the last win coming in 2007. He is winless in his last 17 starts in a major.