Woods claims 13th career major

Tulsa, August 13:

Challenged only briefly along the back nine, Tiger Woods captured the PGA Championship on Sunday to win a major for the third straight season and run his career total to 13 as he moves closer to the standard set by Jack Nicklaus.

Woods closed with a one-under 69 for a two-shot victory over Woody Austin. Ernie Els also made a brief run at Woods, but the ending was all too familiar. The only thing different about this title was how it ended. Woods became the first major champion in seven attempts to make a par on the 72nd hole at Southern Hills.

Woods, who has never lost any tournament when leading by more than one stroke going into the last round, stretched his three-shot lead to five with back-to-back birdies that appeared to siphon all the drama out of the final major of the year. Austin made a surprising charge, however, and Woods three-putted for bogey on the 14th that dropped his lead to one.

That was as close as it got. Woods hit two perfect shots on the 15th and holed a 10-footer for birdie, pointing to the cup after it fell.

“Winning becomes almost a habit,” Els said after his 66. “Look at Tiger.” Woods, who finished at 8-under 272, now has more majors than the rest of the top 10 in the world combined. At age 31, he is well ahead of the pace Nicklaus set when he won his record 18 professional majors. Nicklaus was 35 when he won his 13th.

Austin closed with a 67 and earned plenty of crowd support as the working class hero. Austin, a 43-year-old former bank teller playing in only his 15th major, had a 12-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole that would have tied him for the lead, but it slid by on the left.