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GolfWorld headline

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Still glowing over his first PGA Tour
victory, Todd Hamilton doesn't need to see the record books to
appreciate what Tiger Woods has done at the Bay Hill Invitational.
``To win a tournament four times in a row is unbelievable,''
Hamilton said. ``I don't know what the longest streak is, but
that's got to be pretty close.''
Told that Woods already shares the record, Hamilton stated the
obvious.
``That's why he's No. 1,'' he said.
Woods is in familiar territory when the Bay Hill Invitational
gets under way Thursday. Whenever there is talk about the longest
streak, or a new PGA Tour standard, his name is usually in the mix:
_ The only player to win four straight professional majors.
_ The only player to win three straight U.S. Junior Amateurs.
_ The only male to win three straight U.S. Amateurs.
_ The longest cut streak in PGA Tour history.
_ The only player to win at least five tour events in five
consecutive years.
Woods is not sure where he would rank his accomplishment at Bay
Hill, even if he were to win this week and become the only player
to win the same event five straight times.
``Definitely up there,'' Woods said. ``But obviously, it can't
rank anywhere near the majors.''
Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship four straight years in the
match play era, his streak ending in 1928 when Leo Diegel beat him
in the quarterfinals.
Gene Sarazen won the Miami Open from 1926-30 (there was no
tournament in 1927). The Squire couldn't go for five in a row
because he didn't play the tournament in 1931.
On the women's side, Laura Davies (Phoenix, 1994-97) and Karrie
Webb (Australian Ladies Masters, 1998-2001) won the same tournament
four years in a row. Webb is the closest anyone has come to five
straight, losing to Annika Sorenstam on the fourth playoff hole in
the '02 Australian Masters.
Not even Woods can approach the all-time record _ Mohammed Said
Moussa won the Egyptian Open 10 years in a row, against competition
that wasn't exactly close to what Woods faces this week.
Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh gave Bay Hill the top
four players in the world, the first time that has happened on the
PGA Tour since the season-opening Mercedes Championships at
Kapalua.
``I don't see anything stopping him from winning his fifth
tournament,'' Mark O'Meara said. ``He's fired up. He wants it. But
it's not going to be a pushover. These guys don't lie down for
Tiger Woods.''
Bay Hill has become a big-hitters' haven in recent years,
especially since 2002 when Arnold Palmer rebuilt the greens and
made them hard as concrete.
That favors players who hit it long, allowing for more lofted
clubs into the greens.
Then again, more than that has gone into Woods' streak at Bay
Hill, where he has won a variety of ways.
In 2000, when he has at the height of his game, Woods didn't
make a bogey over the final 34 holes and beat Davis Love III by
four shots. At the time, it was his largest margin of victory since
the '97 Masters _ 12 shots.
He had his closest call in 2001. Woods made birdie on two of the
last three holes with drives that easily could've led to bogey or
worse. His tee shot on the par-5 16th came within 4 feet of going
out of bounds. His drive on the 18th bounced off a spectator's
neck, and he hit 5-iron from a dry patch of grass to within 15 feet
and a one-shot victory over Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson made it easier for Woods in 2002. Lefty was within one
shot of the lead when he tried to hit from under the trees and over
the water, getting only the first part right. Mickelson bogeyed the
last three holes, and Woods coasted to a four-shot victory.
Woods had a stomach virus last year, but still more than doubled
his lead and won by 11 shots, a record at Bay Hill and the fourth
time he has won by at least that many.
What's next?
``I don't want to think about Tiger winning five,'' Els said
with a laugh. ``I want to try and win this week because I love
coming here. But it's a hell of an achievement, especially in
modern-day golf. He's set so many records already, and this will be
another one that will stand _ if he does it _ for a very long
time.''
Streaks like this have defined Woods' career.

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