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Devil Ball Golf

Tiger Woods flirts with 59, still posts 61 to take seven shot lead at Firestone

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

There are few things left for Tiger Woods to accomplish as golfer in this lifetime. He's won all four majors more than once, been Player of the Year on the PGA Tour 10 times and has been ranked No. 1 in the world for what seems like almost his entire career.

But joining the 59 Club would have been a pretty nice cherry on top once his career wraps up. That was what seemed inevitable on Friday at the Bridgestone Invitational when Woods went into a mode that reminded everyone of the 2001 days, playing the first 13 holes at Firestone Country Club 9-under.

Firestone is a par-70 course, so with five holes to go (including the par-5 16th) it seemed that there was a better chance that Woods would break 60 than not. But as we've seen so many times in the past, the birdies stopped dropping and the swings got a little tighter.

Even the best player in the world can feel the pressure of such an accomplishment, and Woods slowly started leaking oil. He missed a good look for birdie on the par-3 15th, and with just a wedge in on No. 16 couldn't get his approach inside 25 feet, settling for a disappointing par forcing him to make birdies on his final two holes to join that rare club.

His approach shot on No. 17 was salty, with seven feet, but the birdie putt was low and Woods was forced to settle for a par. With the chance of 59 basically out of the question (Tiger would have had to hole out for eagle on 18 to do so) it seemed his concentration escaped him, hitting a poor drive on the final hole followed by a second shot that caught a tree branch and dropped into a terrible lie. It was there that Woods did what we got so used to seeing Tiger do in his prime; make a putt on the 18th green to either make a round or save it.

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It was not the finish that Tiger wanted, but his round of 9-under 61 tied the course record and his personal best, and he now looks like he will cruise to another win at the Bridgestone, a tournament he has already won seven times.

With 36 holes left on this golf course it seems lights out for the field, but inevitably the talk will shift to the PGA Championship next week and if this great play by Tiger means something at the final major of the year. I hope after this Friday we can quiet that and just enjoy Woods playing some of the best golf we've ever seen, a round for the ages as 2013 slowly wraps up.

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