Tiger Woods claims PGA Memorial title

DUBLIN: Tiger Woods fired a final-round seven-under par 65 to win his fourth PGA Memorial tournament title on Sunday sending a message that he will be the man to beat in two weeks at the US Open.

It was the 67th career PGA title for Woods, who finished 72 holes on 12-under par 276, one stroke ahead of fellow American Jim Furyk and four better than the US third-place duo of Mark Wilson and Jonathan Byrd. Woods fired seven birdies, two bogeys and an eagle for the second victory of his comeback from knee surgery. A stunning birdie-birdie finish by the world No 1 served notice that Woods is back on form after making his return from an eight-month layoff and ready to defend the US Open crown he won limping through a playoff last year. Woods won his first victory of the season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

Woods, a 14-time major champion, had prior titles in 1999, 2000 and 2001 at the Memorial, which is hosted by Jack Nicklaus, the boyhood idol of Woods who owns the all-time major title record of 18 that is Woods’ ultimate target. Woods reached all 14 fairways off the tee. He missed only three in the first two days and his 18 fairways hit in a row is his longest such streak since 2003.

Starting the round four strokes off the pace, Woods birdied four of the first seven holes, including the second and par-3 fourth plus the par-5 fifth and seventh, before suffering a bogey at the par-3 eighth. An amazing chip-in brought an eagle for the second day in a row at the par-5 11th that put Woods among a pack of leaders and while his birdie at 15 was followed with a bogey at 16, his stellar finish won the day.

After rolling home a testy birdie putt at 17, Woods dropped his approach at the 18th hole just inches from the cup and tapped in for a birdie. Furyk birdied the 18th to finish one back but Wilson and Byrd were the only other rivals within six shots. Americans Davis Love, Matt Kuchar and Matt Bettencourt shared fifth on 282, one stroke ahead of countryman Stewart Cink and South Africa’s Ernie Els.