AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
DUBLIN: Tiger Woods birdied three of the last four holes, one with an amazing chip shot, to win the PGA Memorial tournament on Sunday and match Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time victory list.
Woods captured his 73rd career title with a five-under par 67 final round, putting him on nine-under 279 after 72 holes, two strokes ahead of South African Rory Sabbatini and Argentina’s Andres Romero. “I hit it good today,” Woods said. “That was some good stuff out there. I never really missed a shot. I hit it great. I had the pace of the greens really nice and I made a few putts.”
Added to the legend of Woods was another spectacular shot — the superstar blasting out of the rough for a 48-foot chip-in birdie on the par-3 16th hole to seize a share of the lead. “That was one of the most incredible golf shots I think you will ever see played,” said Nicklaus, serving as a US television commentator. “That was an unbelievable shot. That was the most unbelievable gutsy shot I’ve ever seen. If he hits it long the tournament is over. If he hits it short the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole.”
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Nicklaus, pulled even with the legend in all-time US PGA wins, both now nine adrift of Sam Snead’s record 82 triumphs.
The victory comes two weeks before Woods will try to move closer to Nicklaus on the major win list at the US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Nicklaus, who won the last of his titles at the 1986 Masters at age 46, designed the Muirfield Village course where Woods has won five Memorial crowns — in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2009 and this year.
But nothing in any of them was like the birdie Woods sank at the 16th, when he blasted the ball high out of the rough, landing it just on the green, and then watched it roll into the cup. Woods reacted with a right fist pump, a double downward fist pump and another right fist pump, all while screaming with joy as the crowd roared in delight.
Woods had snapped a 17-month win drought at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March at Bay Hill, but was lackluster since then, sharing 40th at the Masters and Players Championship and missing the cut at Quail Hollow. Woods, who last won a major title at the 2008 US Open, had not won an event in which he was not the 54-hole leader since 2009.