- Nov 23, 2006
By Gary Van SickleSenior Writer, Sports IllustratedPublished: March 25, 2007
MIAMI - You don't have to worry about Tiger Woods someday starting his own tour. He's already got one. It's called the World Golf Championships.
We may as well officially rename it the Tiger Tour because he has dominated it to the point of being laughable. By capturing the CA Championship Sunday at Doral, he has now won 13 of 24 WGC events, including five of the last seven. He's six-for-eight in the CA Championship. He's won $18 million in Tiger Tour events. That figure alone would rank him in the top 25 on the PGA Tour's career money list, ahead of David Duval, Paul Azinger, Mark O'Meara and Greg Norman.
What makes WGC events so easy for Tiger to dominate? The smaller fields. Only 73 players competed last week. In the field were the likes of Prom Meesawat (he shot 16 over), Hideto Tanihara (17 over), Yong-Eun Yang (13 over), Louis Oosthuizen and John Bickerton (seven over each). Not in the field were the Ryder Cuppers Vaughn Taylor, Scott Verplank, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood. The WGC fields are top-heavy but not very deep, and thus easier to win. As if Tiger needs any extra help.
Add Doral to the list of courses where Woods is money, such as Firestone, Augusta National and St. Andrews. He is 74 under through 20 rounds at Doral - 31 under on the front, 43 under on the back. That par-5 opening hole? It's not a par 5 for Woods. He has birdied or eagled it 18 of the last 20 times, including the last 16 in a row. This is three wins in a row at Doral, the last two coming in the defunct Ford Championship.
"I love this golf course," Woods said. "I always play well here."
He showed it Friday, firing a 66 in gusty conditions, then backing it up the next day with a 68 to open a four-shot lead going into the final round. The tournament seemed over before Sunday because Tiger was 38-3 with a 54-hole lead - make that 39-3.
The lead pursuer was Brett Wetterich, who didn't seem like the kind of player who had enough experience to put any pressure on Woods. As it turned out, he did at the end, but it was too little and too late. Of course, it's never a good idea to spot the game's best player four shots.
Sunday afternoon's gusty winds were as strong as any all week. Woods kept his hefty cushion throughout the front nine. He birdied the opening hole with a 16-foot putt. After missing a five-footer for par at the third, where the exposed green next to the lake is among the windiest spots on the course, he made another eight-foot par save at the fourth after running his 50-foot birdie putt past the hole. He added a short birdie at the fifth and played a low approach shot at the sixth that bored through the wind and over the green, leaving him a tough up and down. He missed that par putt, but made a six-footer at the next hole to for a nice sand save.
Woods seemed ready to romp when he birdied the tenth to open a six-shot lead, but he three-putted the 11th for bogey and missed a par putt at 13. Wetterich made things exciting by making a birdie at the downwind 16th hole to get within three. Then, he hit it to eight feet at the 17th green and missed the putt. That stroke proved crucial. It let Woods play the 18th with a three-shot cushion and lay up off the tee with an iron.
But when Wetterich played one of the best approach shots of the day to six feet, Woods was pressured to make his bogey for the win. His wedge shot carried a little long and left him with a dangerous downhill putt from 50 feet. From a similar spot about an hour earlier, Mark Calcavecchia putted off the green and into the lake. Woods lagged it close, then Wetterich left his birdie putt short, in the jaws. Not that Tiger was going to miss the par putt, but Wetterich had to make it to have a chance.
"I hit two really good shots on that hole, and to leave one short, that's a pretty poor putt," he said. "It probably didn't matter, but it would have been nice." Woods wasn't at his sharpest in the final round, struggling with his putter a bit and with his memory - he remembered how Doral's old greens broke, but they've been resurfaced and altered since last year, so his memory actually worked against him. He closed with a 73, not bad. As he said, repeating his favorite mantra, "A W is a W."
No surprise that Woods keeps piling up Ws. What else would you expect from a guy who hangs out or text-messages a group of superstar athletes that includes Roger Federer, Michael Jordan and Annika Sorenstam? Federer walked some holes with Woods during his early morning Wednesday practice round. Woods rushed to watch Federer play Saturday night in a nearby tennis tournament. They are, officially, buds.
"Well, I think we understand each other for what we go through," Woods said. "The difference between myself and Jordan and myself and Roger is that Roger and I play individual sports. So there's common ground there that I didn't have with Jordan. It's still phenomenal to watch. It's neat and intriguing for me to talk to him and see what he thinks on certain situations, and we pick each other's brain a little bit. People don't realize how hard you have to work off the court and off the course to achieve the levels that we've been able to achieve. It's a lot harder than people think."
Like his text relationship with Sorenstam, Woods can't help needling his friends about their major titles. Woods has 12 to Federer's 10. They're both pretty driven. "He's a lot more mellow than I am leading into the event," said Woods, who spent time with Federer in the locker room Saturday night during a rain delay. "I'm pretty fired up and ready to go. I can't wait to get out there and mix it up. He's just a little more low-key. I remember at the U.S. Open, I think it was like 15 minutes before he goes on the court, and he has not had his ankles taped yet. He's just talking to me. I'm like, 'Hey, go.' I pushed him out the door. He's really mellow and low-key, but once he gets on the court, it's a totally different deal."
The final-round flameout at Bay Hill the previous week, where Woods finished double bogey-triple bogey, is already a forgotten aberration. What was wrong with him that week was probably nothing more than a lack of sharpness and competition. He had played only 11 competitive rounds this season before Bay Hill, a third of what many Tour players had already done. Write it off to rust.
There wasn't any rust this weekend when he notched PGA Tour victory No. 56 and stretched his record to 39-3 when he's had the lead after 54 holes.
His swing looks as efficient as ever. His drives still spray at times, but not at crucial times. He remains the man to beat. No one could have seriously challenged him at Doral. With the Masters only a week away, Woods was asked if Doral was good preparation for the Masters. "Well," he said with smile, "you can't have any better, getting a W right before you go."
Let's go out on a limb here - he's ready.
By DOUG FERGUSON
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 6) - A tournament that looks like a major now has a winner whose career is defined by them.
Tiger Woods added the Wachovia Championship to his growing collection of trophies Sunday with a 60-foot eagle putt to take the lead, a double bogey that kept it interesting, and by avoiding the kind of calamity that doomed his challengers down the stretch at Quail Hollow. Despite the topsy-turvy finish, the outcome was all too familiar.
Backed by a two-shot lead on the toughest hole on the course, Woods played it safe and made par from 8 feet to close with a 4-under 68 for a two-shot victory over Steve Stricker. It was Woods' third victory this year, and his ninth on the PGA Tour in his last 14 starts over the last 12 months.
Stricker had his best chance to win for the first time since 2001, one shot behind with three holes to play. He hit into the trees and the sand on the 16th on his way to double bogey, recovered with a 30-foot birdie on the 17th, then lost all hope when he went for the flag on the 18th and hit into the creek. He shot 69.
Rory Sabbatini, who said he wanted Woods in the final pairing, didn't make a par until the 10th hole and closed with a 74 to tie for third with Phil Mickelson, who closed with a 70 but was never a factor. The Wachovia Championship is only 5 years old but already regarded one of the best stops on the PGA Tour with its world-class course and one of the strongest fields of the year. Of the five winners, four have won major championships.
Who's the best athlete in the world right now?
2. (tie) TIGER WOODS
Wow factor Tiger began making adults go "wow" and making them jealous of his swing ever since he was three years old. As a pro, no athlete has made viewers, commentators and fellow competitors go wow as often as Tiger has these last 11 years. Score: 10.
Athletic ability When everyone assumes something you are doing in a Nike commercial is a computer graphic trick, that's some serious hand-eye coordination. Tiger's ball-bouncing-on-his-club routine punctuated by the flick and smash out of midair remains the coolest thing in sports advertising. With those skills, you get the feeling if his dad had been nuts about football or hoops, little Eldrick could have become a phenom in those sports too. Okay, I hear you, how much athletic ability do you need in a sport that made Craig Stadler a millionaire? But that's part of what makes the yoked, 6'1, 185-pound Tiger so transcendent. Score: 9
Showmanship P.T. Barnum himself would be jealous of the circus atmosphere Tiger creates. His entire career has been a flair for the dramatic. Two of my favorites: the ridiculous chip-in on 16 at the 2005 Masters and his finish at the 2000 Mercedes Championship, where he eagled the 72nd hole to force a playoff, then went birdie-birdie on the first two extra holes to beat Ernie Els. Score: 10.
Idolization Just look at the disparity in interest between when Tiger is playing and in the hunt and when he is not. Not even Michael Jordan at the peak of his powers had as big a gap between himself and the other players in terms of idolatry. Score: 10.
Things you've never seen before He won the Masters by 12 strokes with a tournament record 18-under when he was 21. The guy was hitting short irons for his second shot into the Par-5's. His ability was so unprecedented he sent tour officials scrambling to "Tiger proof" their courses, lest he make a mockery of the sport, which for long stretches he has anyway. Score: 10.
By RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer
May 31, 2007
AP - May 30, 2:43 pm EDT
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- Masters champion Zach Johnson is here. So are eight of the top 10 players in the world.
Yet all anyone seems to notice is the looming duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both were peppered with questions about a potential showdown in this week's Memorial Tournament.
Woods is No. 1 on the planet by acclaim, not even close. But that doesn't stop everybody from trying to speculate about who could sneak up and steal his crown.
"I've had different guys make different runs," Woods said after Wednesday's pro-am at Muirfield Village Golf Club. "It was (David) Duval and then probably Phil and Ernie (Els), Vijay (Singh), Goose (Retief Goosen) -- a combination of those guys throughout the years." With Mickelson coming off a big win at The Players Championship three weeks ago, some are saying he may be primed to challenge Woods at the Memorial and then in two weeks at the U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Mickelson isn't so sure.
"It's flattering -- to me, anyway," he joked of the comparisons between him and Woods. "Probably not to him, but it's flattering to me." It seems that every time Mickelson gets a big win -- the Masters in 2004, the PGA Championship in 2005, the Masters again in 2006 -- it gets Woods' attention.
A year ago, for instance, Mickelson won at Augusta and was in position to take his second major in a row before hitting that hideous drive on the final hole that cost him the Open at Winged Foot.
Still grieving the loss of his father, Woods wasn't a factor there, but then turned around and won the last two majors, the British Open and PGA.
With Woods facing impending fatherhood and the changes that can bring, now could be the time for Mickelson to finally challenge for the top spot in the world.
Woods doesn't seem to be conceding anything, though.
"As long as I'm up there in the conversation, I'm doing all right," Woods said. "I keep pushing myself pretty hard, regardless. I always try and get better. You can't stay stagnant in any sport. You've always got to keep getting better because you know the guys are training harder, they're finding their game, they're in the gym, you're getting better athletes playing the game. So you've got to keep getting better." Mickelson, leading the tour in putting average, knows how difficult the task is. "It's a tough feat. I mean, we're talking about probably the best player of all time," he said.
Memorial Tournament founder Jack Nicklaus was asked if anyone is capable of pressing Woods.
"All I know is that Tiger is dominating what's going on. And when he plays and when he's playing well, he is really difficult to beat," Nicklaus said. "We can say that the guys today can't finish and Tiger is the only guy that can play, or we can say that the guys today are really, really good and Tiger is just way above them. We never will have an answer for that."
Either way, Mickelson is not giving up. He's lost weight, is halfway through restructuring his swing and is optimistic heading into the Memorial -- a tournament Woods has won three times. Mickelson has never finished in the top three.
"A lot of great players have won this tournament. I have not," he said. "It's one of the tour events that I would very much like to win." The field mirrors that of a major. Nine of the top 10 money-winners are on hand, along with former Memorial winners Els, Jim Furyk, Singh, Tom Lehman and Paul Azinger.
Johnson, still on a victory lap after winning the Masters in April and the AT&T Classic two weeks ago, burns to remain in such elite company.
"This is one of my favorite places to be," said Johnson, who tied for second at the Memorial a year ago, two shots behind winner Carl Pettersson. "Golfwise, I absolutely love it. If you find a complaint here, it's hard."
By Alan Bastable
Senior Associate Editor, GOLF Magazine
Published: June 16, 2007
Tiger Woods at the Office!
OAKMONT, Pa. - Doris Yates, a 64-year-old retired hair stylist, arrived with her husband at the 3rd hole at Oakmont Country Club just after 9 a.m. Saturday. She was waiting for Tiger Woods. About five hours later, when Woods appeared, with two tidy pars under his belt, Yates stood hole high to the right of the green, perfectly stationed to watch Woods roll in his first birdie of the day.
Then the Mob showed up, and Yates missed the putt. "You wait and you wait," she said, shaking her head. "And then this." Where Tiger Woods goes, so goes the Mob: a swelling herd of reporters, photographers, commentators, cameramen, sound guys, spotters, tournament officials, handlers and angers-on. They follow Tiger's every step like Vatican bodyguards trailing the Pope. The inevitable result, along every tee box, fairway and green, is a slew of disappointed and often disgruntled spectators who in some cases have waited hours for a front-row glimpse of Woods only to get a close-up of sweaty-backed writers and camera lenses the size of bazookas.
And some fans aren't shy about voicing their disapproval."Hey, white shirt, sidooooown!" one spectator yelled at a USGA official impeding the view of Woods's birdie putt at the par-3 8th. "Nice seats, Brian," another fan said to his friend after their sightline was blocked by a troupe of photographers at the 5th. "Hey, XM!" a fan snarled at the XM Radio reporter who was standing greenside at the 9th as Woods stalked yet another birdie putt. The reporter turned around, glared at the fan, and grudgingly took a knee.
And so it went today at Oakmont, and always goes when Woods, or Phil Mickelson for that matter, is near. It's a situation unique to golf: Spend $78 on a field-level ticket to Yankee Stadium, and you're guaranteed nine innings of unobstructed A-Rod. Drop $99 for admission to the Daytona 500, and you'll get unimpeded, if distant, views of Jimmie Johnson's stockcar. But spend $375 for a four-day grounds pass to the U.S. Open, and there's no telling what you'll see.
Or won't see, particularly if you've come to watch Woods. Where Woods goes, so goes a media Mob that can leave fans fuming "It's a joke," Russell Ward, a corporate lawyer from Michigan, said of the Mob's "utter disregard for us." "It's like we're not even here," he added, straining for a view at the 9th green, where at least 100 Mobsters lingered near the gallery rope.
Talk to the Mob, of course, and you'll get a different take.
"They've been bitchin' and moanin' all day," Rex Brown, a photographer for Ai Wire, said as he awaited Woods's approach shot at No. 7. "It's just ridiculous." "I'm trying to respect people, but I'm just doing my job," he said, a refrain you'll hear from many members of the Mob. Doug Ferguson, the AP's golf writer and longtime Mobster, was on the course earlier this week when a fan yelled to an NBC cameraman setting up his equipment in front of the gallery: "Hey, I paid for my ticket!" "I was thinking to myself, 'Yeah, and NBC paid like $25 million for theirs,' " Ferguson said.
"Sometimes I just don't understand it," he said. "If you're a knowledgeable fan, the last thing you should want to do is stand behind certain areas of the tee where you know the cameras are going to be." Ferguson also said he's amazed by how awed the spectators look as the Mob strolls by. "To see a trail of however many photographers and 20 to 25 reporters, and then the security detail and officials," he said, "it's stunning to them."
And then there is the sarcastic commentary from the fans. Mark Stahl, a photographer for Icon Sports, said he hears the same old jokes whenever he's shooting Woods. "Usually about whether there's enough of us covering him," he said. Today one fan unleashed this beauty as the Mob strolled by: "Christ, get a real job." Insults and all, the Mob marches on, one Woods shot at a time. And if today's third round was any indication, the Mob is not the note-taking, photo-snapping, view-impeding monster some fans accuse it of being. Sometimes, despite what the gallery thinks, the fans are actually on the Mob's mind.
Brown, the photographer, said he occasionally even moves so the crowd can see. "I've got 18 holes to get what I need," he said. "They've only got one."
By Andrew Both PA SportsTicker Golf Writer
AKRON, Ohio (Ticker) -- Rory Sabbatini had to eat his words the last time he said Tiger Woods was "more beatable than ever."
Sabbatini will get another crack at Woods on Sunday, as he takes a one-stroke lead over the world's top-ranked golfer into the final round at the $8 million Bridgestone Invitational.
"Tiger is the two-time defending champion here. He's won five times here. Somebody has to knock him down," the outspoken South African said after recovering from a double-bogey at the first hole to shoot a respectable 2-over-par 72 on the punishing Firestone course on Saturday.
Sabbatini is at 4-under 206 through three rounds. Woods shot 69 Saturday and was the only player in the final 10 pairings to break par, although he was disappointed to bogey No. 18.
Kenny Perry (71) was three shots behind in third place at 209, with another two-stroke gap to a large group of players at 1-over in the World Golf Championships event. Masters champion Zach Johnson, who started the day in second place, plummeted six shots back with a 76 that included a quadruple-bogey at the par-4 ninth, where he took five strokes to negotiate the final 75 feet.
Sabbatini and Woods last locked horns at the Wachovia Championship in May, where Sabbatini also had a one-stroke lead entering the final round. Woods won the tournament but Sabbatini, who finished four strokes back in a tie for third, doesn't seem intimidated. Far from it.
"Tiger has done a lot to deserve all the respect he has (but) there's always going to be that point where somebody beats you, so maybe tomorrow is my day," Sabbatini said. "If you go into a tough situation and mentally you're always looking at yourself as second, you're going to be second. If you go in with the belief you're there to compete and you can do it, then you will.
"I'm sure there won't be very much talking going on, but that's why we have Kenny Perry with us." Actually, that isn't why. The final round was scheduled to be played in twosomes, but an iffy weather forecast prompted officials to bring the tee times forward by several hours, using a two-tee start with threesomes instead.
Woods adopted a conservative game plan on the fiery layout Saturday, with good results until the par-4 18th. He pulled his drive behind a clump of trees and had little choice but to punch out almost sideways. "I didn't have a lie and didn't have a shot," Woods said, expressing satisfaction with the rest of the day. "I grinded my way around, left a bunch of putts short again, but I kept myself right there. Not a whole lot of guys took it low today."
Woods downplayed suggestions he was fired up by Sabbatini's comments: "He's trying to obviously think of ways to motivate himself," Woods said. "A lot of guys don't externalize it. We all say things like that inside, and he's just trying to gain any kind of edge mentally.
"He believes in what he can do, and there's a lot to be said for that. I've got to do my business and I'm sure he'll do the same." Woods, who has won 13 of 24 starts in WGC events, is a brilliant front-runner but not so great when coming from behind. Only 16 of his 55 PGA Tour stroke-play victories were won without holding the 54-hole lead.
In an amusing distraction, many players had a chuckle on the fourth green, where vandals overnight spray-painted some lewd outlines.
Woods said it was just about the strangest thing he had seen on a course.
Added Sabbatini: "I'm not even going in that direction."
AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- Tiger Woods looked as unbeatable as ever Sunday at Firestone. Woods erased a one-shot deficit in two holes, then buried Rory Sabbatini and the rest of the field to win the Bridgestone Invitational for the third straight year and send him to the PGA Championship with his game in good shape.
Woods made a 12-foot par putt on the final hole that kept him bogey-free on a rainy afternoon at Firestone. He closed with a 5-under 65 for an eight-shot victory over Sabbatini and Justin Rose, tying a PGA Tour record for most victories at one golf course.
It was the second time Woods has strung together three straight victories at this World Golf Championship, and he continued his dominance in these WGC events by winning for the 14th time in 25 tries.
Sabbatini shot 74 and was left in his wake again.
The fiery South African also lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship, then caused a brief stir by claiming later than Woods looked "beatable as ever."
Not on this course. Woods picked up five shots in a five-hole stretch along the front nine, and it was no contest after that. He joined Jack Nicklaus (Augusta National) and Alex Ross (Pinehurst No. 2) as the only players to win six times on the same course. "He played significantly better than he did in the final round at Wachovia," Sabbatini conceded. "He made all the shots he needed to. He was definitely playing a lot better golf today." Next up is Southern Hills and the PGA Championship for the final major, something Woods has failed to win this year.
"This might just give a little more confidence," Woods said.
Rain softened Firestone, but it didn't make it any easier. Woods finished at 8-under 272, the only player to finish under par. It was the third time he has won a tournament as the only player in red numbers; the other two were his U.S. Open victories.
Woods turned in the only bogey-free round on Sunday and played for the middle of the greens on the back nine when he had control of the tournament. He now has won seven times on the PGA Tour by at least eight shots.
"It's a major-style golf course, and look at his record in the majors," Rose said after saving par on the 18th for a 68. "He always seems to be up there. The harder the course, the better he does."
Woods started the final round one shot behind Sabbatini, and when they made the turn as the rain began to fall, white flags would have more appropriate than umbrellas.
Sabbatini was shaken to the point that he ordered a spectator removed. Woods essentially won the tournament by picking up five shots in a five-hole stretch on the front nine, but the ninth hole was absurd. Everyone in the final group was all over the map and headed for big numbers, with Woods the most wild.
He hooked his tee shot so far to the left that it was in the rough on the 10th fairway. Then he tried to slice his approach around the trees, only to drop from a branch and hit a 58-year-old woman in the arm, coming to rest in the crook of her arm. After taking a drop, Woods pitched over the green, then chipped in for par. Sabbatini took five to reach the green and made double bogey, and as he walked toward the 10th tee, a spectator called out to him, "Hey Rory, still think Tiger is beatable?"
Sabbatini turned and glared, then barked at a police officer, "Take his (expletive) out of here."
Soothing the sting was seeing his children standing by the 10th tee, and Sabbatini stooped and hugged them. Then he pulled his next tee shot into the rough and made another bogey, as Woods continued to pour it on. Even with everything falling his way, Woods kept a straight face when he holed a chip from the front of the 12th green for his fifth birdie.
Still, this was over much sooner.
Sabbatini was having to work way too hard for pars early in the round. He hit his tee shot so far left on the par-5 second that his best option was to play up the third fairway. He ran into Stuart Appleby, who had just teed off on No. 3, and Sabbatini said to him, "Sorry, I screwed up." It was only later that he paid for it.
He saved par on the second, and after having to lay up short of the water on the par-4 third, saved par again. But his luck ended on the fourth when Sabbatini went into deep rough on the right, couldn't get back to the fairway, couldn't clear a bunker and had to chip to 4 feet to escape with bogey. Woods made an 18-foot birdie at No. 4 for a two-shot swing and his first outright lead of the tournament.
Sabbatini came up short on the fifth and made bogey, then Woods poured in an 18-foot putt for birdie on the sixth.
"I spent too much of the day trying to hack the ball back out to the fairway," Sabbatini said. "And it made a long day."
Asked if he would temper his comments in the future, Sabbatini looked indignant.
"Why?" he said. "I hope I inspire him and play well enough that I can give him a good challenge."
The only competition was for second place.
Chris DiMarco picked up his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since he was runner-up to Woods at the British Open last summer at Hoylake, closing with a 70 to tie for fourth with Peter Lonard (68).
Andres Romero, the 26-year-old Argentine coming off his first European Tour victory in Germany, shot a 71 to tie for sixth and give him enough money to take PGA Tour membership next year if he wants it.
Woods earned $1.35 million for his 58th career victory. Since the start of the 2005 season, Woods has not got more than five starts on the PGA Tour without winning.
Art Spander / Sports Xchange
Posted: 3 hours ago
He told us. Then he taught us. We should know by now not to doubt Tiger Woods. Not to think when he says he likes the way he's playing that it's hyperbole, exaggeration.
Tiger tells the truth. Tiger plays the truth.
Woods fired a 63 on Friday in the second round of the 89th PGA Championship. Or as Tiger said with a smirk after his 15-foot putt on the final hole spun out, "a 62½." And even with two rounds to go, a lock on his 13th major championship.
Tied for 23rd at the start of the day. First, by two strokes at the end of the day. A round embellished by all those Woods virtues length, accuracy and the one magnificent par-saving putt, a 35-footer on the 12th hole that would not let history escape.
Nobody's ever shot lower in a major championship, Tiger becoming the 21st player to record a 63. Nobody's ever shot more impressively in a major championship.
Southern Hills Country Club, with a par of 70, with too many doglegs, with thousands of trees, wasn't supposed to be a course Tiger Woods could master. But there doesn't exist a course Tiger Woods can't master.
As we found out once more. "I was just trying to get myself back in this tournament," Tiger insisted when someone wondered if he were trying to make a statement. "And lo and behold, here I am. A 62 would have meant I had a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead."
A 62 would have meant he had the best score ever in any major. And he knew it. Which is why when that ball did a horseshoe turn out of the cup, Woods dropped his putter and his expression became that of someone who had missed the cut, not just missed the record. "Mad," Woods said of his emotion. "I hit a good putt. And I thought I made it. It would have been nice to have gotten a record and got a three-shot lead going into the weekend, but the good thing is I hit a good putt. That's the important part. It just didn't go in. Nick Price did the same thing at Augusta in '86 and hit the same kind of putt, and it horseshoed as well."
Price didn't win that '86 Masters despite the 63 in the third round. Jack Nicklaus did. But Tiger Woods will win this '07 PGA.
He's 7-for-7 in major championships when leading after 36 holes.
In all previous six majors held at Southern Hills, three U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, the halfway leader was the winner.
"Hopefully," he said, "that will be the case for me."
Woods bases his years on the majors. He is 0-for-3 in '07. He began this PGA with a 1-over-par 71. Then he put together eight birdies and only one bogey for a 63 and is at 6-under 134 and two shots ahead of Scott Verplank. "The guy wins by eight shots last Sunday," said Arron Oberholser, who when he was at San Jose State beat Stanford's Tiger Woods in a college tournament. "And now he shoots 63. It's over. Tiger, Tiger, Tiger."
Woods had been here twice. In the 1996 Tour Championship, in the 2001 U.S. Open, He won neither time. Southern Hills, smirked the critics, was a Tiger tamer. "I finished 12th in the U.S. Open," Tiger responded. "It's really not that bad. And my dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital in '96. So those are my two appearances. I can't really say it's really that bad."
This appearance has been fantastic. He used irons off many tees, keeping the ball on the fairways, a must at Southern Hills. He hit his approaches dead-on. And then when a hiccup seemed possible, at the 12th, he drilled in the huge putt for par.
"I'm very satisfied," Tiger said when someone questioned his reaction to the round. "I'm just really hungry. I just want to go home and eat."
After feasting on Southern Hills, he needed some real food.
Woods let a lead slip away the final round of the Masters. Woods let a tie for the lead slip away in the final round of the U.S. Open. Woods wobbled to a disappointing 12th in the British Open. Now comes redemption. Now comes near-perfection.
Now comes a day to remember, like Michael Jordan throwing in those jumpers against the Jazz, like Joe Montana throwing that touchdown pass against the Cowboys, like all the great performances by all the great athletes through the decades.
"I always think it's fun to watch when people are performing that way at the championship game," Woods said when asked about his recollections of others. "Some guys just seem to take it to the next level, and that's fun to watch."
In major championship golf, few have taken it to a level higher than Tiger Woods.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.com Chief of Correspondents
TULSA, Okla. -- Tiger Woods gave himself a serious mental tongue-lashing as he walked to the 15th tee on Sunday afternoon.
The 4-footer for par he'd just missed on the previous hole had reduced his lead at the 89th PGA Championship to a single stroke. The momentum had suddenly shifted to Woody Austin and Ernie Els, and Woods wasn't a happy camper.
" (I) just felt like, you know what, I got myself in this mess, I need to go get myself out of it," Woods explained. "I just did serious yelling at myself going up to the 15th tee, just to get back into what I do -- position the golf ball, put it where I need to put it and just bear down. "Get it done somehow."
That's exactly what Woods did, too. He found the fairway on the dogleg-left par 4 with a 4-iron and placed a 7-iron 15 feet from the pin. When the birdie putt found the center of the cup, Woods pumped his fist and pointed at the hole as he walked to retrieve the ball.
"It felt great," he recalled later, a towel wrapped around his shoulders to ward off the chill from the air-conditioning after playing 18 holes in 103-degree heat. "(I) felt like I had the momentum again, and I was back in control of the tournament. And if I parred in I felt I would win the tournament. It turned out to be the case."
The victory was Woods' 13th in a major championship, which put him five shy of tying Jack Nicklaus' all-time record, in just his 44th start. The win was his fifth of the year, second straight and 59th overall as Woods clinched the top seed in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"Anytime you're in conversations with Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, Walter Hagen, it make you understand you've had a nice run in your career," said Woods, who even had a putt to set the major championship scoring of 62 on Friday. "And I could not ask for a better start. "If you would ask me that 12 years into my career I would have this many wins and this many majors, there's no way. I've exceeded my own expectations, and I'm certainly not against that."
When Woods had yet another piece of history late Sunday afternoon, he thrust those chiseled arms of his into the air, shook the hand of his playing partner Stephen Ames and wrapped his caddy, Steve Williams, in a bear hug. That was nothing, however, to the greeting he received in the scorer's trailer.
Woods' wife, Elin, was waiting there with their newborn daughter, Sam, who was dressed in her father's trademark Sunday red, to surprise him. The last time Woods won a major, he had dissolved into tears on the 18th green at Royal Lytham after losing his father, best friend and mentor, Earl, two months earlier.
"It feels a lot more special when you have your family there," Woods said. "And it used to be my mom and dad. And now Elin and now we have our own daughter. So it's evolved, and this one feels so much more special than the other majors. "The British Open last year was different, but this one was certainly so special and so right to have Elin and Sam there," he added. "I wasn't really paying attention when I saw them. I was so excited and just want to give Elin and Sam a kiss and get back to signing my scorecard."
Woods has now won five of the last 12 major championships, finished second in three more -- including the first two this year -- and tied for third and fourth. Other than the missed cut at the U.S. Open last year, barely a month after his father's death, Woods' lowest finish in a major is that tie for 12th three weeks ago at Carnoustie.
"I was struggling a little bit with my game (at Carnoustie)," Woods admitted. "I was really putting well. Unfortunately, I was never close enough to make putts. But when I did hit one in there every now and then I'd hole it. So just felt if I could clean up my ball striking and continue to putt well, that I figured that I would win some tournaments after the British Open.
"And all of a sudden I've won two in a row."
The two victories couldn't have been more different, too. Woods came from one stroke behind Rory Sabbatini to win the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational by eight strokes, finishing as the only player under par, a week ago. "I feel pretty comfortable at Firestone," admitted a smiling Woods, who has now won six times there. "And going out there on Sunday, I just had it going. I hit good shot after good shot, made a few good putts got off to a great start. Put a lot of pressure on Rory. He wasn't playing the way he did the first three days. And all of a sudden I had a nice cush."
Seven days later, it was different. Woods started the final round at Southern Hills with a three-stroke "cush" over Ames. He opened a five-stroke advantage with a 25-footer on the eighth hole that elicited the mother of all fist pumps, but bogeys at Nos. 9 and 14 brought Austin and Els back into the picture.
"Those guys made a run at me," Woods said. "But got it done somehow coming down the stretch, which was nice."
Asked what he'll remember about the 89th PGA Championship, Woods didn't hesitate. "I think that consistency of ball-striking, consistency of how I putter all week, and then, obviously shooting a 63 in a major championship," Woods said. "And then having Sam and Elin at the end -- that's something I've never had before."
Sports Xchange, Updated 4 hours ago
TULSA, Okla. - He is the prodigy who has become the power, the little tot who grew into the big boss, the man with the skill and the smarts and the ability to do what is most important in sports - be at his best when the best is demanded.
The closer we get to Tiger Woods, the better he looks, the better he plays. Think of the athletes, the sportsmen who left their competitors impressed as they left them beaten, the nonpareils - a Sandy Koufax, a Bill Russell, a Michael Jordan, a Muhammad Ali.
That's where Eldrick "Tiger" Woods exists, in his own universe, able to raise his game when he must, able to hold dominion over people who are brilliant competitors in their own right but still a notch below Tiger.
Another major victory for Woods, this one coming Sunday in the 103-degree temperatures of Oklahoma, this one coming in the 89th PGA Championship at a course where only five people broke par, one of them Tiger. This one coming with a final round of 1-under 69 for a 72-hole score of 8-under 292 and a two-shot edge over Woody Austin. Tiger's 31 now, with 13 majors, with four PGA Championship titles, with a future that's unlimited.
This was the kid who at two years old was swinging a club on the Mike Douglas show as Bob Hope gawked. The kid who won three straight U.S. Junior Amateurs, who won three straight U.S. Amateurs.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………….................................................................A four-shot lead had been nibbled to one shot. "But I'm still in control of the tournament," reminded Tiger. No panic. No worry.
"I felt I got myself into this mess," he said. "I need to get myself out."
And so he birdied the 15th hole. And so the lead was up to two. And so another major was his.
"When I'm out there, I reflect on how I got it done, and sometimes the circumstances are very similar, and that's one of the reasons why I do it," he said.
And will do it for years to come.
Earns his 59th career PGA TOUR victory at the age of 31 years, 7 months and 13 days in his 227th (213th professional) career start on TOUR.
13th major championship professional victory in 44th career professional major start is second all-time to the 18 of Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus won his 13th major in his 53rd professional major start at the 1975 Masters Tournament and his 14th in his 56th start at the 1975 PGA Championship.
Earned 4,950 FedExCup points remains at the top of the standings for the 15th consecutive week. He has collected 30,574 total points, 11,445 points ahead of Vijay Singh, the largest lead for any player for the FedExCup Regular season. Guaranteed to be No. 1 seed for the PGA TOUR Playoffs.
Fifth PGA TOUR victory in 13 starts in 2007.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship
Starts: 11 (1997-2007)
Wins: 4 (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007)
Top-10s: 6 (T10-1998, W-1999, W-2000, 2nd-2002, T4-2005, W-2006, W-2007)
Third all-time with four PGA Championship victories:
5 Walter Hagen 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927
Jack Nicklaus 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
4 Tiger Woods 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007
Successfully defends PGA Championship for the second time in career (1999-2000).
MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
Career Professional Majors: 44
Cuts Made: 43 (2006 U.S. Open)
Career Major Victories: 13 (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 Masters Tournament; 2000, 2002 U.S. Open Championship; 2000, 2005, 2006 British Open Championship; 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007 PGA Championship)
Career Major Top-10s: 27 (8-Masters Tournament; 7-British Open; 7-PGA Championship; 5-U.S. Open)
Becomes the 10th player with PGA TOUR victory the week prior (or event prior when there was no event the week before a major) to winning a Major Championship and the first since Phil Mickelson in 2006 (BellSouth Classic-Masters Tournament).
Wins second major in 17 professional starts on a par-70 course (2002 U.S. Open).
Wins major championship for the third consecutive season for the second time in career. Six other players have accomplished this feat a total of seven times.
Ralph Guldahl (1937-39)
Peter Thomson (1954-56)
Arnold Palmer (1960-62)
Jack Nicklaus (1965-67)
Jack Nicklaus (1970-73)
Tom Watson (1980-83)
Tiger Woods (1999-02)
Phil Mickelson (2004-06)
Tiger Woods (2005-07)
Becomes first five-time winner of the season and collects at least five wins in a season for the eighth time in his 12-year PGA TOUR career.
With paycheck of $1,260,000, improves season earnings to $7,824,385.
With Vijay Singh missing the cut this week ending his streak at 30, has the longest cut streak on TOUR with 20.
His 59th career PGA TOUR victory is the fifth-most in TOUR history. Arnold Palmer stands in fourth with 62 victories.
40-3 (13-0 in majors) when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR. Final-round scoring average is 69.24 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. 29-6 (8-0 in majors) with at least a share of the 36-hole lead.
With his first TOUR victory in Oklahoma, has now won in 14 different states
Surpasses the $73 million mark in career PGA TOUR Official Money with $73,536,709.
Has won in 27.7 percent (59 out of 213) of his professional starts on the PGA TOUR. Percentage at majors is 29.6 percent (13 of 44).
Marks the 20th time he has successfully defended a title and the second time he has defended a PGA Championship. For the 2007 season, he defends his title for he fourth time this season.
2007 PGA TOUR SUMMARY
Tournaments entered--13; in money--13; victories-5; top-10 finishes-9
By DOUG FERGUSON said:
Posted: 2007-09-09 18:43:58
Filed Under: Golf
LEMONT, Ill. (Sept. 9) - The champion at Cog Hill, the front-runner for the FedEx Cup. Indeed, Tiger Woods is where most everyone figured he would be heading into the final week of the PGA Tour Playoffs.
With a 50-foot birdie putt that got him back on track Sunday, Woods matched the lowest final round of his career with an 8-under 63 that shattered the scoring record at Cog Hill and gave him a two-shot victory in the BMW Championship.
Woods took the lead for good with a 12-foot birdie on the 13th hole and kept his distance from Aaron Baddeley and Steve Stricker with a swing so solid that he missed only two fairways all weekend. He finished at 22-under 262, breaking by five shots the record he set four years ago at Cog Hill.
It also gave him a commanding lead with one week remaining in the FedEx Cup.
Woods goes to East Lake in Atlanta with a 3,133-point lead over Steve Stricker, who finished third at Cog Hill, and a 4,120-point margin over Phil Mickelson, who decided not to play this week.
Mickelson, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship last week, will have to win to have any hopes of capturing the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize. If Stricker does not win at East Lake, Woods could win the cup by finishing second.
Only two other players - Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi - have a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup.
All that mattered at the moment was winning at Cog Hill for the fourth time. It was Woods' sixth victory of the year, and the 60th in his 11 years on the PGA Tour. He earned $1.26 million to go over $9 million for the fourth time in his career.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
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