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Child’s play win for Tiger Woods spurs major challenge

Victory at Firestone has world No 1 looking good to end five-year drought at US PGA this week

Until Sunday night, Charlie Woods had never seen his father win a golf tournament. But after Tiger Woods carded a level-par 70 to win the WGC Bridgestone Invitational for the record eighth time, the wait is finally over for his four-year-old son.

In an ominous display that will have sent tremors through the field gathering in New York for the start of the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill on Thursday, Woods completed his 79th tour victory by finishing seven shots clear of his nearest rivals Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.    

“This is the first win he’s ever been at,” he said after Charlie was allowed to join the celebrations. “That’s what makes it special for both of us. They always say, ‘Daddy, when are you going to win the tournament?’ It was a few years there, or a couple years, I hadn’t won anything. ‘Are you leading or not?’ That’s a stock question. ‘Not leading.’ ‘Well, are you going to start leading?’ ‘Well, I’m trying.’”

That new approach seems to be working. Charlie was not even born when Woods won his 14th major at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines but, having already won five times this year to move within three victories of Sam Snead’s long-standing PGA record, the 37-year-old acknowledged he will never have a better chance of breaking that barren run.

“Oak Hill is going to be a golf course where we’re going to have to make a lot of pars, there’s no doubt,” Woods said. “If you have an opportunity to make a birdie, you’d better, because there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to make them. There are a few holes that you can be aggressive on and maybe a few pin locations that if you have the right situation you can be pretty aggressive to it, but otherwise it’s going to be a tough golf course.”

The last time Woods won by more than six shots the week before a major championship was also at Firestone in 2007, the world No 1 then going on to win the US PGA at Southern Hills. But Woods was quick to dismiss any comparison and added: “For me it’s hard to relate because it’s a totally different emotion, and it’s Southern Hills versus Oak Hill, two very different golf courses.

“I’m looking forward to it. As far as wanting it more than any other, no. It’s the same. These are the events that we try and peak for and try and win.”

Woods criticised the greens at Oak Hill for being too slow when he played a practice round there last week. But he is expecting  a real test for the course’s first major since American Shaun Micheel was a  surprise winner of the US PGA 10 years ago.

“The rough was already up when I played it,” Woods said. “It has  another week of getting thicker and more lush. I think that it’ll be a very, very difficult championship.”