By Michael Beaven
Beacon Journal sports writer
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For the first time in his career, Tiger Woods shared a victory with his son, Charlie, present Sunday at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
When Woods made a par putt on No. 18 to clinch his eighth tournament victory on Firestone Country Club’s South Course, he wanted to hug his son.
Instead, he conducted a television interview with David Feherty and then was whisked away to sign his scorecard, which added up to an even-par 70 to finish the event with a 15-under-par 265.
Woods emerged from the scoring area and hugged his son on a putting green before returning to the No. 18 green to address the crowd and pose for pictures after winning by 7 shots over defending champ Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.
Then came more interviews with radio and television announcers as fans snapped pictures. A news conference with newspaper and magazine writers followed.
Woods, 37, answered each question before getting to the moment he was waiting for, an opportunity to chat and take a private picture with 4-year-old Charlie in the media room.
Tiger stood behind the trophy, the Gary Player Cup, wearing a red Nike golf shirt while Charlie stood on the table beside it wearing a red Nike “Get Your Swoosh On” T-shirt.
The two smiled, embraced and then walked out of the room and into a red Cadillac.
“He understands it now,” Woods said prior to buckling his son into the backseat of the car and driving away. “This was the first win he’s ever been at. That’s what makes it special for both of us. He’s never seen me win a golf tournament.
“[My 6-year-old daughter] Sam was there when I won the U.S. Open in ’08 and she loves to look at the YouTube videos and back to daddy. She loves looking at that, and Charlie has never had that, never felt what it’s like to be with the trophy ”
Charlie got to be with the trophy after watching his father earn $1.5 million for placing first and bring his earnings in 15 tournaments in Akron to a staggering $11,060,525.
Woods maintained a lead he built with a 61 Friday that tied a course record. He shot 66 Thursday and gained separation with the 61 Friday. He then played conservatively Saturday (68) and Sunday (70).
“Today was a day with it being as blustery as it was, it was going to be really hard for someone to shoot 62 or 63,” Woods said. “If I didn’t give any shots away today and played my game and shot even par or better, I’d have to force these guys to go and shoot something super low on a golf course that was not going to give it up under these conditions.”
Four players in the field of 73 shot 66 Sunday, but nobody challenged Woods, who is ranked No. 1 in the world and has won 79 PGA Tour events since turning pro in 1996.
Woods is second all-time in that category, three short of Sam Snead’s tour record of 82. Jack Nicklaus (73), Ben Hogan (64), Arnold Palmer (62) and Byron Nelson (52) occupy spots three through six on the list.
“I just handled my business and just made a bunch of pars and sprinkled in a [birdie on No. 10 and a bogey on No. 14],” Woods said. “Overall, it was a solid day. I played well and played conservative, but also played very aggressive to my spots.”
Woods has won eight of the 15 tournaments he has played in Akron — four NEC titles and four Bridgestone titles — since teeing off in the 1997 World Series of Golf.
“I played it here once when I was a junior,” Woods said. “I was up in Cleveland and came down here and played the course across the street and played the South course. I liked it then, and then when I started playing it as a professional, started really understanding how to play it, and by ’99 kind of figured it out.”
Woods parred 16 holes en route to matching the PGA Tour record he shares for victories in a single tournament with Snead, who won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Woods has also won at Torrey Pines and Bay Hill eight times apiece.
“He kind of punctured this tournament on Friday for sure,” said Stenson, a Swede who played alongside Woods on Sunday and also carded a 70. “He did what he needed to do today.”
The United States finished with five of the top eight in the tournament: Woods, Bradley, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Bill Haas. Johnson and Dufner tied with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez for fourth at 6 under. Haas and England’s Chris Wood tied for seventh at 5 under.
Woods’ triumph is also the 12th PGA Tour event he has won by 7 or more shots. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other player has won more than two since he turned pro.
Bradley, who made five birdies and shot a 67 Sunday, marveled at what Woods did.
“It was a really weird feeling because it was like a tournament within a tournament,” Bradley said. “Coming in second alone is a big accomplishment considering Tiger had such a big lead.
“I got to play with Tiger [Saturday]. He’s playing very well. It’s very tough to give Tiger that many shots. The round he shot on Friday was pretty special. You know, I hate to sit here and go on and on about good he is, but he is. It’s difficult because I really want to get up there and contend with him.”