x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Tiger Woods sounds Masters warning after claiming two-shot victory in WGC-Cadillac Championship

The world number two finished two shots clear of Steve Stricker in Miami to record his biggest victory since 2009 - and warned his rivals his form is still improving.

Tiger Woods poses with the Gene Sarazen Trophy after his victory in the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Tiger Woods poses with the Gene Sarazen Trophy after his victory in the 2013 WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Tiger Woods warned his rivals his game is still improving after claiming his biggest victory since 2009 with a two-shot victory over Steve Stricker at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami.

The world number two finished on 19 under par, after a final round 71, to claim his 76th PGA Tour victory and his 17th World Golf Championship title, two clear of Stricker, while Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia finished on 14 under.

The result is a major boost for the 37-year-old, who has not won a major championship in five years but aims to change that with victory in the Masters next month.

"I'm just trying to get better," said Woods afterwards.

"It's very simple. I feel like my game's becoming more efficient, and it's more consistent day in and day out, and I'm very pleased with the progress I've made.

"The greens got really quick out there today. And if you left the ball in the correct spot though, you could be pretty aggressive and you could shoot a good number."

Stricker closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 17-under-par 271. Despite the impressive rally, he couldn't make up the difference between himself and Woods and finished runner-up for the second time this season.

Rory McIlroy, the world number one, was obviously delighted with his blemish-free final round of 65, improving on his early performances over the weekend to finish eighth, with an eagle on the first followed by birdies at five, 10, 11, 16 and 17.

"I guess that was what I needed to do this week, because I made plenty of birdies and a couple of eagles and stuff," he said.

"It was the bogeys and the others that were killing me.

"So to play a round out there today with the conditions the way they are, you know, was very pleasing.

"It was pleasing to see some of the shots I hit out there and able to convert some of them on the greens, too. It was a good score out there, and a lot of positive signs going into the next few weeks.

"I probably wear my heart on my sleeve a bit with my golf. If I have a bad round, it's sort of like the end of the world, but if I play a good one, I'm happy again.

"You know, that's just the way it goes. I was pretty down about my game coming into this week, but a few days like I've played, you know, it does my confidence a world of good."

McIlroy will make just one more start before the Masters in April, but after a solid end to the tournament he was in no mood to alter his preparation.

"I'm going to keep it the way it is," he added.

"I'm looking forward to putting some hard work in over the next few weeks and I'm going to Houston and get ready for Augusta."

A double bogey on the last was not the greatest way for McDowell to finish, but he believed it was the game of Woods and not his own which cost him victory.

"Tiger played great, you know, no disrespect to him," he said.

"He was going to be tough to catch anyway. I would have had to be on top of my game 110 per cent and I would have really had to putt it extremely well to keep pressure on him. But that six on the last leaves an extremely sour taste in my mouth.

"But all in all, I'm ecstatic the way I'm playing.

"The way I drove it this week, my iron play, just everything, really.

"The putter let me down the last couple days, but that's been a part of my game that's been extremely strong the last couple weeks, so no complaints."

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