Rose rallies to win World Golf Championship

BY foxsports • March 11, 2012

DORAL, Fla. (AP) -- Justin Rose expected a moment like this, posing
on the 18th green of the famed Blue Monster at Doral with a World Golf
Championship trophy in his hands. It's the rest of the script that made
Sunday so surprising.


The biggest charge came from Rory McIlroy, eight shots behind until he crept within one of the lead late in the round.


The early departure came from Tiger
Woods, who muddied his Masters future by limping off the course after 11
holes with soreness in the left Achilles tendon, the one that caused
him to miss two majors last year.


Bubba Watson went from a collapse on the
front nine, when he lost his three-shot lead in four holes, to a clutch
shot on the final hole when he hit a bullet of a 4-iron out of the palm
trees to 9 feet from the cup that put one last scare into Rose.


All that drama, and Rose didn't realize he had won until he was on the practice range and heard nothing.


Watson missed the birdie putt.


Rose closed with a 2-under 70, a score
he didn't think would be nearly good enough to win. Ultimately, all he
knew about -- or cared about -- was winning the Cadillac Championship.


"I've been very focused on seeing this
whole Florida Swing as like a body of work, and not really trying to put
too much focus on any individual tournament," he said. "I kind of knew I
was playing well, and if I just kept out of my own way for the most
part and kept thinking well and doing the right things, I had a feeling
something good might happen.


"For this little beauty to show up on
my mantle place so early in the season," he said, pointed to the blue
trophy beside him, "definitely a fantastic feeling. It sets up a very
exciting year."


It was a day of endless drama at Doral.


Sergio Garcia hit four balls into the
water at the par-4 third hole and made a 12. Paul Casey made a
hole-in-one on the 13th hole. Rose had to make up a three-shot deficit
on Watson at the start of the round, and when he made the turn, he found
himself two shots behind PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who then shot 41
on the back nine.


Through so much commotion, Rose never felt steadier.


He seized control with a 52-degree
wedge that settled 5 feet away from the hole for a birdie on the 14th
that gave him a two-shot lead. He closed with a bogey from the back
bunker on the 18th, but not before watching his sand shot roll off the
green and trickle toward the water, though never in serious danger of
going in.


"It was all about controlling what I
could control," said Rose, who finished on 16-under 272 and earned $1.4
million. "I kind of knew I got into the lead -- it's hard to ignore it
out there. And from there, I knew it was just a matter of closing it
out."


Watson didn't hit a fairway on the
front nine and did well to shoot 39. He bounced back with birdies, and
gave himself an unlikely chance at a playoff with a remarkable shot, one
of many he hit at Doral this week.


"That's the kind of thing Bubba does,"
Rose said. "He can look out of position on a hole and just hit sort of a
miraculous shot."


For Woods, his future is a mystery.


"I felt tightness in my left Achilles
warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse,"
Woods said in a statement. "After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided
it was necessary to withdraw. In the past, I may have tried to continue
to play, but this time, I decided to do what I thought was necessary."


This is the same Achilles tendon he
injured a year ago at the Masters while hitting a shot from under
Eisenhower's tree on the 17th hole of the third round. It wound up
forcing Woods to miss three months and two majors.


This time, he was lifting his left leg
and flexing his angle, even after changing his shoes at the turn. The
limp became more pronounced until he blasted his tee shot on the 12th,
shook hands with Webb Simpson and rode off in a cart.


Woods said he would have it evaluated to determine the scope of the injury.


NBC Sports showed images of Woods
behind the wheel in a black sedan as he drove away from Doral. It
returned to golf just as McIlroy holed a bunker shot for eagle on the
12th hole.


McIlroy pulled within one shot of the
lead with a birdie on the 16th hole, but he closed with a bogey and a 67
to finish alone in third.


It was a day that left little doubt
about McIlroy's spot atop the world ranking. Just like Woods in previous
years, McIlroy showed he could never be counted out with an array of
splendid shots -- most of them from precarious spots in the bunker --
and threatened to win.


Rose was oblivious to all this.


He opened with two birdies through four holes, which was enough to catch Watson, who looked out of sorts all day.


Watson didn't hit a fairway on the
front nine, and only one tee shot managed to stay inside the bunkers
that frame the fairways. He was in the water twice, once in a canal on
the fifth hole that not many knew were there. He shot a 39 on the front
nine, which included three putts outside 8 feet to limit the damage.


It was like watching NASCAR. Watson would have looked more comfortable in his General Lee stock car he recently bought.


What was he thinking?


"I'm thinking I'm not playing very good," Watson said.


Still, he showed remarkable resiliency to give himself a chance at the end.


Watson wasn't the only player who
faltered. Bradley opened with an eagle, tied for the lead with a wedge
into 3 feet for birdie on the fifth, then rolled in a 12-foot birdie at
No. 7 that gave him a two-shot lead.


Bradley came undone with bogeys on the
par 5s, even though he was around the green with his second shot on both
of them. On No. 8, his ball buried so deep in the grass behind the
green -- he called for a ruling to see if it had plugged -- that he
purposely played 20 feet away from the flag, knowing it would roll off
the green. He failed to get up-and-down.


Then, he three-putted from about 6 feet on the par-5 10th, turning a birdie chance into bogey.


"I didn't play that bad," Bradley said. "Just some really strange putts, and then I just kind of limped in."


share story