Tiger Woods takes 13th major title
The world number one fights off back-nine charges by Woody Austin and Ernie Els to win the 89th PGA Championship by two strokes.other Updated: Aug 13, 2007 12:58 IST
Tiger Woods was tested late but captured his 13th major title, fighting off back-nine charges by Woody Austin and Ernie Els to win the 89th PGA Championship by two strokes on Sunday.
World number one Woods fired a final-round one-under par 69 to finish 72 holes at Southern Hills Country Club on eight-under par 272 with Austin second after a 67 and three-time major winner Els third on 275 after shooting a 66.
"Those guys made a run at me but I got it done somehow down the stretch," Woods said. "I kept telling myself Ernie and Woody are going to make runs but I still had the lead. They had to come get me."
Woods moved five majors shy of matching the all-time career record of 18 major triumphs set by Jack Nicklaus. Woods now has won four Masters titles, four PGA Championships, three British Opens each and two US Opens.
"When I first started my career, 18 majors seemed a long way away," Woods said. "Even though I'm at 13, it's still a long way away."
Woods won his 13th major crown in his 44th major start as a professional. Nicklaus took his 13th major in his 53rd pro start at the 1975 Masters and his 14th later that year at the PGA Championship.
"It's going to take some time. It took Jack 20 years to get it done," Woods said. "Hopefully health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, one day I will surpass that."
Woods improved to 13-for-13 in majors, and 40-3 in PGA events, when at least sharing the 54-hole lead. The last 11 PGA Championships have been won from the last pairing. All seven Southern Hills majors were won by 54-hole leaders.
Defending champion Woods began the round with a three-stroke lead and stretched the margin as large as five after birdies at the fourth, seventh and par-3 eighth holes.
Woods curled home a dramatic 30-foot birdie putt from the edge of the green at the eighth, following it with a flamboyant fist pump.
"I got off to a good start. I thought I was in control," Woods said. "I felt if I played the back nine under par I'd win the tournament. But I didn't."
Woods took a bogey at nine and lipped out a five-foot par putt at the par-3 14th, trimming his lead to only one stroke over Austin, who had birdied three holes in a row starting at the par-3 11th, and two over Els.
"I kind of made a mess of it there at 14. Woody was playing well and Ernie was making a run," Woods said.
"After that I kept telling myself, 'I got myself into this mess. I'm going to have to get myself out of it.'"
Woods responded by sinking a 12-foot birdie putt at the 15th, pointing at the ball as he walked to the cup just as he did in 1999 after sinking a key putt to hold off Sergio Garcia down the stretch and win his first PGA crown.
"I kept telling myself to give myself more looks at it and I'll make one or two of them," Woods said. "I made the putt at 15 and I felt I was back in control of the tournament."
Indeed Woods was. Els made a bogey at 16 to doom his bid. Austin hung on for five finishing pars but never threatened again.
Woods sank a five-foot par putt at 18 to take home 1.26 million dollars from a seven million-dollar purse.
The best surprise after Woods' first major victory since becoming a father in June was the presence of infant daughter Sam Alexis at the course to greet him following the victory.
"To have her here, it just brings chills to me," Woods said. "I was surprised she was here. It's just so cool."
Austin was still not certain how he managed his first top-10 major finish.
"No question it's a breakthrough for me because I had never been in this position before," Austin said. "I'd like to know exactly how I did it. What the formula is I have no idea but I'm going to take this as far as I can."
"I played the first six holes about as well as I could play and then it was just a matter of making a few and trying to put a little pressure on him."
Els made a valiant run with six birdies but was foiled by birdie misses from six feet at the ninth and eight feet at the 11th and a poor drive at 16 setting up the bogey.
"I missed a putt at nine and another at 11. That probably cost me," he said.
"If I get up to this next level where I want to be, maybe I can at least give him a real go, a run for his money, because somebody needs to step up. He's playing some awesome golf."
Woods, who settled for sharing second at the Masters and US Open and 12th at the British Open, lifted the Wanamaker Trophy for his 59th PGA victory in 213 pro PGA starts, fifth-best on the all-time list.
Woods ranks three shy of Arnold Palmer's fourth-place career win total and five behind Ben Hogan. Sam Snead has the record at 82 with Nicklaus on 73.
A fourth PGA triumph moved Woods one shy of the all-time mark set by Walter Hagen in 1927 and equaled by Nicklaus in 1980.
Woods made a successful PGA title defense for the second time, a feat done only by Hagen in the 1920s.
Woods also became only the seventh golfer to win a major the week after winning a PGA event, the first to do so at the PGA Championship. Woods won the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational by eight strokes a week ago.
First Published: Aug 13, 2007 12:29 IST