Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Woods overtakes Sabbatini

6th Firestone win ties PGA record

Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods is fired up for the PGA. Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods is fired up for the PGA. (SAM GREENWOOD/GETTY IMAGES)

AKRON, Ohio -- In the final event before the final major of the year, Tiger Woods buried Rory Sabbatini and the rest of the field yesterday at the Bridgestone Invitational for an eight-shot victory, sending his confidence soaring as he left for Southern Hills and the PGA Championship.

"This might just give me a little more confidence," Woods said.

He was determined to play the final round without a bogey, just like the US Open at Pebble Beach, and Woods showed more emotion over saving par with a 12-foot putt on the final hole than any of his birdies in his 5-under-par 65. He finished at 8-under 272.

He was the only player to finish under par at Firestone. And after he turned a one-shot deficit into a six-shot lead on the front, everyone else was playing for second.

"The whole idea was to win this event, but be playing well going into next week," Woods said. "I feel I made some nice strides this week, and I feel very good going into next week."

Sabbatini took another step backward. The fiery South African lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship this year, then said Woods looked "beatable as ever."

It was the second time Woods has strung together three straight victories at this World Golf Championship, and he tied a PGA Tour record by winning for the sixth time on the same course. Jack Nicklaus won six Masters at Augusta National, and Alex Ross won six times at the North & South Open at Pinehurst No. 2 at the turn of the 20th century. Woods also won for the 14th time in 25 tries in World Golf Championship events.

Sabbatini closed with a 74, just as he did in the final group with Woods at Wachovia.

Justin Rose saved par on the final hole for a 68 that left him tied for second. He thought he had a chance with four birdies through eight holes until he saw a leaderboard with Woods in firm control.

"I thought, 'Oh, well, we're playing for second,' " Rose said. "And, obviously, that's what it turned out to be. Rory and I were in different situations today. For me, vying for second place was an exciting prospect. With Rory, maybe it's a slight letdown."

Woods started the final round one shot behind Sabbatini. When they made the turn as the rain began, white flags would have more appropriate than umbrellas. Sabbatini was shaken to the point that he ordered a spectator removed.

Woods essentially won by picking up five shots during a five-hole stretch on the front nine, but the ninth hole was absurd. Everyone in the final group was all over the map and headed for big numbers, with Woods the wildest.

He hooked his tee shot so far to the left the ball found the rough on the 10th fairway.

Then he tried to slice his approach around the trees, only to drop from a branch and hit a woman, coming to rest in the crook of her arm. After taking a drop, Woods pitched over the green, then chipped in for par.

Sabbatini took five to reach the green and made double bogey. As he walked toward the 10th tee, a spectator said: "Hey, Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?"

Sabbatini barked at a police officer and demanded -- with an obscenity thrown in -- that the fan be taken "out of here."