Even Mother Nature's best could not stop Tiger Woods' familiar stroll to an eight-shot victory at the Amex Championship here in Watford yesterday. But at least she slowed him down, which was more than the rest could do.
On a final day blighted by repeated thunder and lightning, the world No 1 re-emphasised his complete dominance with a final-round display that he would not even have been particularly proud of. A number of short putts were missed on his way to a 67, which meant he was two short of his record World Golf Championship mark of 25-under.
But when you have just won your £700,000 with your sixth strokeplay success in a row you can afford not to be too greedy. And when you work out that each shot in that victorious run was worth more than £2,300, you may be forgiven for being blasé. But not Tiger. "What keeps me going?" he asked at the golfing complex here. "Ws. That's all. Purely and simply, Ws." At this rate he will soon be in danger of becoming immune to their intoxicating properties as he is stacking them up at a breathtaking pace. Out of the 15 individual WGC events he has so far competed in, the 30-year-old has won 10. In doing so he has earned more than £10m. "It's not about the money, though," maintained Woods.
Ian Poulter might have had trouble nodding to that sentiment after collecting the second biggest cheque of his career with the £320,000 he secured for finishing joint second with Adam Scott at 15-under. The Englishman is enjoying an uplifting end to a season that brought him tremendous disappointment in not qualifying for the Ryder Cup.
This prestigious podium placing, after a brave 66 yesterday, with his Madrid Open win two weeks ago, has vaulted Poulter into the top 10 of the Order of Merit as well as securing his US Tour card for 2007. Suddenly, his disposition is almost as bright as his trousers.
In contrast, Woods revealed afterwards that he will remember this year as one of sorrow off the course rather than joy on it. The loss of his father, Earl, to cancer in April has understandably cast a shadow over 2006, although the pre-eminence in his profession has blessedly allowed a little light in. This was his ninth title of a campaign that will now peter out with a few traditional end-of-season dollar-earners and was achieved in trademark style.
Having led from the first round, he extended his advantage every day and, if it had not been for a weekend putting blip, the scoreboard would have been more damning. Typical of Tiger, though, as he came off last night, he looked peeved not to have recorded his fourth eagle in as many days at the 18th (his birdie still made him seven-under for the hole, though) and this only highlighted his excellence.
It was a glorious end to his three-week tour of the British Isles that ran the full fairway of emotion. Disappointment at the World Match Play, despair at the Ryder Cup, demolition at the Amex. Woods always has the last laugh.