Tiger Woods Makes Statement with Memorial Win
"Back" or not, it looks like Tiger Woods is going to be a big-time factor the rest of the season on the PGA Tour, starting with the U.S. Open.
A closing run of three birdies in four holes, including a chip-in from 50 feet for birdie in the 16th, lifted Woods to victory at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday and back into favorite status heading into the season's second major.
Woods ball striking was superb in the final round and he made enough putts to finish with a 5-under-par 67, tied for low round of the day. He also drained a delicate chip on 16 that drew a course-shaking roar from the gallery and praise from tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
"He had one place to land the ball. He's playing a shot that if he leaves it short, he's going to leave himself again a very difficult shot. If he hits it long, he's going to probably lose the tournament, Nicklaus said. "He lands the ball exactly where it has to land. I don't think under the circumstances I've ever seen a better shot."
Woods also tied Nicklaus for second on the PGA Tour wins list with 73. At age 36, Woods is 10 years younger than Nicklaus when the Golden Bear won the 1986 Masters for win No. 73. Sam Snead holds the PGA Tour record with 82 victories.
"It's special for me to do it here, to do it with Jack here, with his involvement in the tournament and the game," Woods said. "It just makes it that much more special. If I would have won it somewhere else, it would have just been I tied Jack.
"But it do it here and have him here right next to me right now, that means something to us as players, and it's awfully special for me to be here with him right now."
While the debate will go on whether or not Woods is "back", the point may be moot. Woods is held to an incredibly higher standard when it comes to his play on the course than any of his peers, while he may never return to the dominating form that has seen him win four straight majors at one point, he may not have to to be the dominant player on tour.
"I'm sure by Tuesday I'll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the U.S. Open it might be something different," Woods said when asked if he was back. "But I'll let you guys figure that out.'
But he may have done that for us.
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