Rose rises to occasion, Tiger limps away

Justin Rose, of England, and caddie Mark Fulcher celebrate a win at Doral.
Justin Rose, of England, and caddie Mark Fulcher celebrate a win at Doral. (MIKE EHRMANN / GETTY IMAGES)
Posted: March 12, 2012

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 yesterday 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."

Rose 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."

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."

In other tournaments:

* At Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, George McNeill birdied the last three holes for a 3-under 69 to rally past Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa and win the Puerto Rico Open. Ishikawa, on the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that left his homeland in ruins, closed with a 68 and had a one-shot lead. McNeill caught him with a birdie on the 16th, took the lead with a birdie on the 17th and added another birdie on the par-5 18th. McNeill finished at 16-under 272.

* At Santiago, Chile, Paul Haley II won the Chile Classic in his third career Nationwide Tour start, closing with a 1-under 71 for a three-stroke victory. The 24-year-old finished at 22-under 266 in the inaugural event.

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