AUSTRALIAN Robert Allenby has finished in a tie for second as world number one Tiger Woods took his record seventh World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational title.
Thanks to a new putting grip, Allenby is a new and confident man on the greens and that helped him to a final round four under 66 in Akron, Ohio.
Woods claimed the USD$8.5 million event by four shots from Allenby and overnight leader and playing partner Padraig Harrington, who imploded with a disastrous triple bogey eight on the 16th.
It was Woods’ 70th career PGA victory and at the age of 33, seven months and 10 days he is now third on the all time list behind Sam Snead (82) and Jack Nicklaus (73), who were both into their forties when they achieved those milestones.
For Allenby, It emerged at the tournament last week that he had softened his stance on threats never to play another Australian event, with the confirmation he would be joining Woods contesting the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in his home-town of Melbourne in November.
He also didn’t rule out playing at the Australian PGA Championship or even the Australian Open, where comments at the “party hole” started all the “I’ll never play in Australia again” stories.
Following Allenby for his entire final round at the Open at Royal Sydney last year two things were very apparent.
Firstly that whatever he was saying later, he did get heaps of spectator support and before it became controversial later, we noted all the “C’mon Robert” calls from the crowd. (Admittedly, with the din of the party hole we couldn’t hear any of the alleged comments relating to his mother’s cancer that upset the apple cart.)
Secondly, as everyone (and the statistics) were always saying, he was a great ball striker let down miserably by his putting.
Anyone, we thought, would feel shitty missing that many birdie putts.
Now, the 38 year old Australian seems to have found a new lease on life, after following advice from Vijay Singh last month to try the so called claw putting grip.
An all smiling Allenby said his Bridgestone performance this week was his best since winning the triple-crown in Australia in 2005.
“I putted well all four rounds of the British Open and so I thought let’s see what happens this week,” he said after recording his best result this year. “It’s definitely rejuvenated my game that’s for sure.”
“It’s funny, when you feel good with the putter the rest of your game starts clicking. The putter feels fantastic. I’ve got a lot of confidence with it and now I’m just excited to get out there and play next week.”
When asked about his prospect for a win soon, Allenby replied, “I think there’s no if’s in it, it’s just when, you know it feels good, feels great!”
As for the rest of the Australians in the field, Mat Goggin, competing in the event for the first time, continued with the form that saw him finish the best of the Australians at the British Open at Turnberry two weeks ago.
After working with coach Dale Lynch on making adjustments to his swing Goggin’s score improved each day this week. He admitted the swing change took some getting used to but that he was pleased with the way he was hitting off the tee and with his form heading into the USPGA Championship next week.
“I drove the ball quite well, I was really pleased,” said Goggin, who finished T22 after a final round two under 68.
“It took me a day or two to get a feel for it (the swing change) and once I got the playing feel it felt comfortable. I feel like I hit the ball as well as I’ve hit it all year, on the weekend, so that’s encouraging.”
Geoff Ogilvy bogeyed six holes in his final round to finish on three over for the day. His up and down round of 73 also included four birdies but he never seemed to find his rhythm. It was a disappointing day for the world number eight as he fell from a tie for fifteenth overnight to finish alongside Goggin in a tie for 22nd.
Adam Scott was another whose form improved as the tournament went on. A disastrous first round 78 had him on the back foot from day one but the 28 year old Queenslander was happy with his driving which had him ranked fourth for the tournament after recording following rounds of 67, 71 and 70.
“I got off to a bad start on Thursday so I’ve been playing against myself ever since,” said Scott who most recently finished fourth at the Scottish Open. “I did play well the last three days so I feel my game is in good shape.”
“It’s nice to be finally striking the ball the way I remember I can because I struggled so much with my ball striking this year.”
For other Australasians in the field, Nick O’Hern had a disappointing final round 75 to finish five over for the tournament followed by Scott, New Zealand’s Danny Lee and Stuart Appleby who finished a further shot back and T51st. Nathan Green closed with an even par 70 to finish at nine over par.
T2 RobertAllenby 68, 69, 69, 66 – 272 (-8)
T22 Mat Goggin 73, 71, 68, 68 – 206 (E)
T22 Geoff Ogilvy 69, 71, 67, 73 – 280 (E)
T45 Nick O’Hern 72, 67, 71, 75 – 285 (+5)
T51 Danny Lee NZL 68, 73, 75, 70 – 285 (+6)
T51 Adam Scott 78, 67, 71, 70 – 286 (+6)
T51 Stuart Appleby 74, 68, 69, 75 – 286 (+6)
T64 Nathan Green 74, 71, 74, 70 – 289 (+9)