<
>

Tiger secures $10 million prize with seventh win of '07

ATLANTA -- This new era in golf sure had a familiar ending.

Tiger Woods never paid much attention to the FedEx Cup until it
was shining before him on a pedestal on the 18th green Sunday at
East Lake. He always figured his name would be the first engraved
on the new trophy as long as he kept winning.

And there was never a doubt.

In his final event of another spectacular season, Woods closed
with a 4-under 66 to shatter the tournament record and win the Tour
Championship by eight shots for his second straight victory in
these PGA Tour playoffs.

The only new twist? It was the first time Woods won two trophies
at one tournament.

Along with earning $1.26 million in cash for winning the Tour
Championship for his seventh PGA Tour title of the year, Woods was
a runaway winner of the FedEx Cup and the $10 million that goes
into a retirement account.

"I don't look at what the purse is or the prize money,'' Woods
said. "You play. And when you play, you play to win, period.
That's how my dad raised me, is you go out there and win. If you
win, everything will take care of itself. You take great pride in
what you do on the golf course, and when you're able to win events,
that's when you can go home and be very proud of what you've
done.''

If this was supposed to be golf's version of the Super Bowl,
Woods spent most of the final round taking a knee.

The only drama was whether he would break the 72-hole scoring
record on the PGA Tour. With a late bogey, Woods had to settle for
a 23-under 257, the lowest of his career, breaking the Tour
Championship record by six shots.

Masters champion Zach Johnson (68) and Mark Calcavecchia (71)
tied for second.

Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson were the only other players
with a realistic chance of capturing the FedEx Cup, and their hopes
were gone by the weekend. Stricker closed with a 67 and tied for
17th to finish second in the FedEx Cup, worth $3 million in
retirement money.

Woods, however, made no secret of which trophy meant more.

"I think winning this week is pretty special,'' he said.
"Winning the FedEx Cup is one thing, but I think as a player, you
always want to win the Tour Championship. There's history involved,
and the players who have won it ... these are basically the 30
hottest players for this year, and you know you're going to have
your hands full coming into this week.''

Everyone else must have felt empty when they left. It was eighth
time in his career that Woods has won by at least eight shots, and
based on his rate of winning, his career seems to have no limits.
He ended the year with four victories in his last five starts, and
now has won 15 times in his last 31 tour events over the last two
years.

"The man is a freak of nature,'' Johnson said.

The FedEx Cup was created to put some sizzle into the final
month of a shorter season, resetting a points system for the final
four tournaments. Woods skipped the first one in New York, and he
probably could have skipped another one.

"We had some great drama,'' Woods said of the inaugural FedEx
Cup season. "In the end, it was a lot of fun for all of us.''

There was no drama at East Lake, not with Woods hitting on all
cylinders to wrap up another phenomenal year. Along with seven
victories, his adjusted scoring average of 67.79 matches the PGA
Tour record he set in 2000.

He has played his last five tournaments in 75-under par, and his
victory at East Lake pushed his season earnings to $10,876,052.
That's just $29,114 short of the tour record set by Vijay Singh in
2004, when he played 29 times. Woods played 16 events this year.

His primary objective is winning majors, and he already has 13
of those. The World Golf Championships were created in 1999, and he
has won 14 of 25. The latest invention is the FedEx Cup, which
changed nothing but Woods' bank account.

"It just makes it harder for the rest of us,'' Johnson said.
"Why give him another thing to try to achieve? He's a very driven
man. When you add another element to that drive, what are you going
to do?''

Woods won for the 61st time in his career, at 31 making him the
youngest player to reach that mark. That leaves him one victory shy
of Arnold Palmer's 62 career victories.

Woods has never lost any tournament as a pro when leading by
more than one shot going into the final round. The only historical
hope for anyone Sunday was that Woods twice failed to win with a
share of the 54-hole lead, both times at East Lake.

But that hope didn't last long.

Calcavecchia birdied the first hole to get within two shots, and
while that was as close as anyone got to him all day, Woods looked
shaky at the start. After a bogey on the second hole, Woods'
approach to No. 3 went over the green and into a bed of pine straw.
He hit a flop shot to 8 feet, and the par putt caught just enough
of the edge to drop into the cup.

"That was a big putt,'' Woods said. "I didn't want to lose two
shots back-to-back and give the guys ahead of me all the
momentum.''

The pivotal shot, if there was one, came on the par-3 sixth
hole. The tee was all the way back, a 200-yard carry over the lake,
and Woods hit his tee shot to 3 feet for birdie. He slapped hands
with caddie Steve Williams walking off the tee, and the rest became
a formality with a few peculiar twists.

Johnson, who flirted with a 59 on Saturday to get back in the
mix, made three straight birdies and was standing over a 30-foot
eagle putt on the ninth that would have pulled him within two shots
of the lead. But he was interrupted by the thud of a ball landing
on the front of the green -- Woods' second shot out of the left
rough from 286 yards away.

Johnson ran his putt 4 feet by the hole and three-putted for
par, and Woods got up-and-down for birdie to stretch his lead to
five.

The only drama remaining was how low Woods could go, a record
that likely will never be broken at East Lake given the unusual
circumstances.

The greens nearly died a few weeks ago from
record heat and a drought, and while the tour staff did an
admirable job getting them playable for the Tour Championship, they
were soft and slow, and the pins were kept away from the barren
spots around the edges. It was target practice from the opening
shot, reflected it in the record scoring.

And the winner.