Tiger Woods knew he had to keep making birdies to win the BMW Championship, so he did just that, notching eight on his way to a two-stroke victory on Sunday.
With the course there for the taking after recent heavy rains, Aaron Baddeley and Steve Stricker were still in contention on the final day at Cog Hill.
“The way Stricks and Badds were playing, it forced your hand to be more aggressive,” Woods said after matching the course record with an eight under par round.
“Normally you don’t have to make this many birdies, but with conditions this soft the three of us got wrapped up in it and we kept pushing each other.
“Starting the day I thought 20-under was going to be the number, but that had to be altered.
“I hit the ball wonderfully today. I didn’t make many putts yesterday. All of a sudden I made a bunch today, but I had to. I mean, I had no choice if I wanted to win the tournament.”
Woods, started the final round one stroke behind Baddeley and Stricker, and the three went more or less birdie for birdie on the front nine.
They all birdied the seventh, eighth and ninth holes and Woods remained one back with seven holes left, but he broke clear with four birdies in the next five holes to finish at 22-under for the tournament.
He smashed the tournament record low total, two strokes clear of Baddeley, with Stricker another two shots back in third place.
It was Woods’ 60th victory in 215 professional starts on the US PGA Tour.
He also went top of the points list in the new FedEx Cup play-off series, which concludes with this week’s Tour Championship.
The pivotal moment Sunday came at the par-three 12th where, with Baddeley and Stricker watching from the tee, Woods tied for the lead with a 50-foot monster birdie, before taking sole possession of it with another birdie at the next.
There was an inevitability about the result after that, and Woods made sure of it by picking up further birdies at the 15th and 16th holes to punctuate another emphatic victory.
“Shooting eight-under to win is a heck of a round,” said runner-up Baddeley, who if it had not been Woods, would have been shocked that his 66, after starting the day tied for the lead, was not good enough.
Justin Rose, who played with Woods, was never in the hunt after starting the day five strokes back but he fought his way to a respectable 68, finishing equal fifth, a distant nine strokes off the pace.
“I was just playing for a good finish,” Rose said.
“I didn’t swing it well all day, but I stayed focused, worked hard and got a good score out of it.”