McDowell has costly slip at WGC-Cadillac Championship to finish tied third as Woods wins 76th US tour title

McIlroy hits 65 to answer critics


Tiger Woods closed the gap on number one Rory McIlroy at the top of the world rankings and shortened his odds as Masters favourite when he claimed his seventh WGC-Cadillac Championship victory at Doral’s Blue Monster.

The 14-time major winner, who led by four strokes overnight from Portrush’s Graeme McDowell, was never under threat as he closed with a one under par 71 to win the 76th PGA Tour title of his career by two shots from Steve Stricker on 19 under par and pocket $1.5 million. McDowell was furious at the finish after his final hole double bogey cost him solo third and $172,500.

While the Northern Irishman briefly closed the gap to three strokes when he birdied the first to Woods’ par-five, he double bogeyed the 18th to close with a 72, missing a seven footer for bogey after finding the hazard with his approach to finish tied for third with Adam Scott (64), Sergio Garcia (69) and Phil Mickelson (71) on 14 under par.

McIlroy hits 65
Rory McIlroy swept aside concerns about his move to Nike, his Honda Classic meltdown and a host of question marks about his game by destroying the course with a brilliant seven under 65.

It was a stunning turnaround for the 23-year old from Holywood who proved for the third time in as many years that you write him off at your peril. Just days after confessing that he wasn’t in “a good place mentally”, the Northern Irishman followed a 73 with rounds of 69, 71 and 65 to finish inside the top 10.

McDowell frustration
“The greens got crustier and I wasn’t putting with the same authority as I was on Thursday and Friday and I guess that led to a bit of frustration on the back nine yesterday,” McDowell said.

As 37-year old Woods birdied the second and fourth to get to 20 under par, McDowell’s title challenge faded when he went from a fairway bunker to greenside sand short of the fifth and failed to hole the seven footer for par. Five adrift of Woods at the turn, the Ulsterman was overtaken by Stricker, who carded a four under 68 to claim second on 17 under.

McDowell failed to birdie the par-five 10th and overshot the 11th from the first cut of rough and bogeyed to slip seven shots off the pace. He battled back with a birdie two at the 13th, where he chipped in from the back of the green and then hit a 163-yard approach to six feet at the 17th and holed the putt to get to 17 under.

But a poor drive at the last saw him finish just over the hazard line with his second to the 18th and he ended with a bogey.

Despite a bogey at the 16th and 18th, Woods now has a success rate of 27 per cent on the US Tour with 76 wins from 283 starts.