There were all kinds of delicious implications had Padraig Harrington hung on to defeat Tiger Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, and the pundits were salivating.
As Woods sat out the second half of 2008, Harrington stole his mantle and won the British Open and PGA Championship. Not that the Irishman seemed to mind Woods’s company. He had twice beaten the great one head-to-head, and even teamed with Colin Montgomerie to thump the U.S. “dream team” of Woods and Phil Mickelson at the 2004 Ryder Cup. With the 2009 PGA Championship just days away — Harrington and Woods are scheduled to play together the first two rounds at Hazeltine — it seemed as though golf had found the one man immune to the Tiger mystique.
On the par-5 16th hole, Woods hit a jaw-dropping, 180-yard 8-iron to within a foot of the flag for a tap-in birdie. Harrington responded by making an equally unforgettable 8, and Woods coasted to a final-round 65 for his 70th Tour victory. Woods is third on the all-time wins list, behind Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82). It was also his seventh triumph at Firestone Country Club’s South Course, the first time a player has won that many times at a single PGA Tour venue, and his second consecutive win. He won by four over Harrington (72) and Robert Allenby (66).
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