Golf: Woods repels Spanish surge to guide US to World Cup

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The Independent Online
TIGER WOODS clinched his 10th tournament win of the year here yesterday, as he led the United States to a five-stroke victory in the World Cup of Golf.

Woods and his partner, Mark O'Meara, earned the Americans their 22nd victory in the 45-year history of the tournament. The Woods and O'Meara team recorded a combined 23-under par total to thwart second-placed Spain's courageous performance. Woods recorded a closing six-under par 65, for a 21-under-par total, to capture the individual trophy and set a tournament record after finishing nine strokes ahead of second-placed Frank Nobilo of New Zealand.

This 10th victory of the season for Woods leaves him tied with Ben Hogan, as fourth best in US Tour records, although the 23-year-old will be pursuing an 11th when he plays in the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. "With the past champions on that trophy, it is quite an honour to be a part of that," Woods said. "This year it has been a pretty good year, winning as many times as I have. I'm not going to rank them because each one is different. They're all different. But this stretch I've been on, and I've played five in a row now, winning four, well, I'm pretty proud of that."

O'Meara, who along with Woods was competing in his first World Cup, singled out Woods for special praise. "I can't reiterate how great this young man is," O'Meara said. "He's just awesome, pure and simple."

O'Meara's closing day was less awesome, as he recorded a six-over par 77. "Tiger was on his game and I wasn't and it is always a struggle when you're not really confident, when you're not sure where it's going out there. It's been a battle for me this year and out there, coming down the back nine, is the worst I've felt on a golf course for a long time," he said.

The Spanish pair of Miguel Angel Martin and Santiago Luna, who started the last round seven strokes behind their more fancied opponents, forged clear at the eighth hole after Luna's fourth birdie of the round. But it proved to be the highwater mark of their challenge as Luna double-bogeyed the 10th and Woods birdied. The American then birdied the next three to regain his side's grip on the title.

"Santiago's double-bogey and then Tiger going, birdie, birdie, birdie gave us the cushion we needed," O'Meara said. "That's when we realised the match turned in our favour and it was then just a matter of not making any mistakes over the last few holes."

Ireland finished in third place at 14-under par, edging past Argentina, with Padraig Harrington producing a best round of four-under-par 67. England were sixth at 10-under par courtesy of a 68 by Mark James and a 70 by Peter Baker.

The Welsh side of Philip Price and David Park finished ninth. Price, who was 10-under going into the last day, recorded a closing 73 whilst Park a 69, the best of his four rounds. Scotland came in 15th with Colin Montgomerie finishing one-over par, his worst World Cup score.

Scores, Digest, page 9