DORAL, Fla. -- That red shirt is starting to look ruthless on Sunday again.
One year after Tiger Woods hobbled off the Blue Monster, he picked up the pace in his march to the Masters. Woods delivered two quick birdies to take the drama out of Doral, and two late bogeys only made his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Championship seem closer than it really was.
Woods had full control of his game and never let anyone get closer than three shots until he had locked up his 17th World Golf Championship title. With a conservative bogey that didn't matter on the final hole, he closed with a 1-under 71.
For the first time in five years, Woods has two wins before the Masters. And both of them were dominant.
He also narrowed his gap to less than one point behind world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who tied for eighth place at Doral. Woods remains in second place, as there were few changes in the top 10, but plenty in the second 10.
McIlroy, Woods and Luke Donald hold down the top three spots for another week, while Brandt Snedeker – who skipped Doral to rest his sore ribs – remains fourth and Justin Rose stays fifth. Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott stick at sixth and seventh, while Doral runner-up Steve Stricker jumped for 13th placed up to eighth. Matt Kuchar dropped from eighth to ninth, while Phil Mickelson climbed from 12th back up to 10th place.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Lee Westwood (down from ninth), No. 12 Ian Poulter (down from 10th), No. 13 Bubba Watson (down from 11th), No. 14 Keegan Bradley (up from 15th), No. 15 Graeme McDowell (up from 19th), No. 16 Charl Schwartzel (down from 14th), No. 17 Sergio Garcia (up from 18th), No. 18 Jason Dufner (down from 16th), No. 19 Webb Simpson (down from 17th) and No. 20 Peter Hanson (up from 22nd).
Also this week, Scott Brown vaulted from 291st up to 160th in the world ranking by winning the Puerto Rico Open, and Kevin Kisner is up to 309th in the World after winning the Chile Classic on the Web.com Tour.
''That's how I know I can play,'' Woods said. ''That's the thing. To be able to bring it out a couple times so far this year – and then be able to close and get the Ws on top of that – that's nice. Any time I can win prior to Augusta, it always feels good.''
And to think it was one year ago Sunday that Woods withdrew after 11 holes in the final round at Doral because of tightness in his left Achilles tendon, the same injury that had cost him to sit out most of the previous summer. It created uncertainty about his health and whether he could ever get his game back.
Woods now has five wins in the last year, the most of anyone in the world, and he can return to No. 1 with a win at Bay Hill in two weeks.
He won by two shots over Steve Stricker, who might want to claim a share of this trophy.
Woods ran into Stricker on the putting green Wednesday afternoon, and in a 45-minute session, Stricker helped him with his posture over putts. Woods left feeling as good as he did at Torrey Pines, where he won by four shots. And it showed. Woods made 27 birdies this week, one short of his personal best on the PGA Tour, and he took the fewest putts (100) over 72 holes in any tour event.
''Thank you to Steve for the putting lesson,'' Woods said at the trophy presentation. ''It was one of those weeks where I felt pretty good about how I was playing, made a few putts and got it rolling.''
The Masters is a month away, and Woods is sure to be the favorite.
''Majors and World Golf Championships are the best because you know you are playing against the best players,'' Woods said. ''That's what makes wins like this special. That's why I love to compete.''
Woods improved to 41-2 on the PGA Tour when he had the outright lead going into the final round, the last two wins with McDowell at his side. Woods last won while ahead at Bay Hill a year ago. He finished at 19-under 269 and earned $1.5 million, and now has won more than $24 million in the WGCs alone since the series began in 1999, winning 42 percent of the tournaments.
This was his 76th career win on tour, leaving him six short of the record 82 wins by Sam Snead. He now has more wins than Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh combined.