Tiger Woods was never going to give up his winning run quietly, so perhaps the world of golf was not too surprised when he pushed Geoff Ogilvy all the way before releasing his grip on the WGC CA Championship in yesterday's rain-delayed finish here in Miami. What is sure to shock, however, was his extraordinary, expletive-strewn outburst at a group of photographers. Yes, Woods lost his streak. But with it went his temper.
It was on the tee on the par-three ninth when a camera click on his back-swing caused Woods to pull his shot perilously close to the water. His scream of "Jackass!" was heard on the live telecast. Fortunately, the verbal assault which followed was only in earshot of members of the gallery, although that inevitably included children.
As he walked to the 10th tee he turned on the press corps shadowing him. "The next time a fucking photographer shoots a picture [on my backswing]," warned Woods, "I'm going to break his fucking neck."
In some respects, Tiger's tantrum was understandable. No golfer has ever had to deal with such media intrusion on the course, and here it was particularly intense in the clamour to see whether the world No 1 could extend his victorious sequence to eight tournaments. Yet this incident could not be described as "out of character".
PGA Tour punishments are kept secret, but John Daly once revealed that Woods told him that nobody has ever been fined more. The latest misdemeanour might cost £5,000. That was hardly going to keep a man earning more than $100m a year awake last night.
What would have disturbed his slumber was this fifth-place finish, his first defeat since September. When he arrived at a course saturated by the weekend storms, he had seven holes to make up a five-shot deficit on Ogilvy. When he birdied the 15th and 17th and the leader was still not on the par-three 13th in two, it seemed Woods would close within a shot.
But Ogilvy, as he did in winning the US Open two years ago, chipped in and Woods was effectively beaten. "That was moving when it hit the pin," confessed the 30-year-old. "That's why you have to hit it straight, I guess." Ogilvy still had to withstand challenges from Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Jim Furyk, but his nerveless par down the Blue Monster's treacherous 18th hole delivered the cheque for £700,000 and made him the third player, after Woods and Ulster's Darren Clarke, to lift more than one WGC trophy.
The pillar-to-post success put Ogilvy back into the world top 10 and identified him as one of Woods' main rivals for the Masters in two weeks. Ogilvy has the short game to take on Augusta, as he proved here. He hit just 25 of 55 fairways, meaning he was 62nd out of the 79 competitors on the driving-accuracy charts, but still managed to avoid taking bogey for the first 60 holes. His four on the par-three seventh was his only blemish of the week, an incredible feat on this layout. "It had to end some time, but yeah, it's pretty neat to be the one to end Tiger's streak," he said. "This is a nice place to do it, too, as Tiger's sort of owned this course the last few years."
Just as content, if not as wealthy, was Hartlepool's Graeme Storm. Playing in the final group, he fought off the jitters and his tie for sixth earned him £135,000, vital ranking points and the benefit of experience. "I felt a bit jumpy this morning, but it feels great to have arrived at this level," said Storm, 30, who five years ago was cleaning trays at a cake factory. "Now, I want to kick on. I've come a long way in the last few years and I will continue to work at it. This is great for me and my family as our first baby is due in five weeks."
Storm could take great pride in finishing as the leading European, with fellow Englishman Justin Rose 15th after an encouraging final round of 68. Colin Montgomerie ended in 65th place with a closing 73 and misses his second Masters in 16 years. Woods will be in Georgia and so the focus will switch to those shortening odds of him winning the Grand Slam. The world has been warned. As have the photographers.
"It's nice to see someone else picking up a trophy for a change," said Goosen. Enjoy it while you can.Reuse content