Tiger rallies for dramatic win at the Memorial

By Doug FergusonJune 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' Two holes, two towering shots, two clutch birdies.
 
Just like that, Tiger Woods broke out of a four-way tie and won the Memorial on Sunday with a 7-under 65 to cap off a high-charged comeback. And just as suddenly, he silenced the skeptics who wondered if he was ready to defend his title in the U.S. Open in two weeks at Bethpage Black.
 
I knew I could do this, Woods said after birdies on the final two holes gave him a one-shot victory. I was close to winning, but the game wasnt quite there when I really needed it on Sunday. I rectified that.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods won for the second time this season. (Getty Images)
First came a 9-iron at No. 17 that Woods launched as high as he could, allowing the ball to land softly on the top shelf of a rock-hard green for a 9-foot birdie putt. More brilliance followed on the 18th, when Woods hit a 7-iron from 183 yards that stopped a foot from the hole, wrapping up his fourth title at Muirfield Village.
 
Then came a bold observation by tournament host Jack Nicklaus. He had said earlier in the week that Woods, with 14 career majors, would probably break his record of 18 majors in a couple of years.
 
I suspect No. 15 will come for Tiger Woods in about two weeks, Nicklaus said at the trophy presentation. If he drives the ball this way, and plays this way, Im sure it will. And if not, it will surprise me greatly.
 
There were no surprises Sunday for Woods, the best sign of all.
 
He hit the ball where he was aiming and found every fairway in the final round, the first time he had done that on the PGA Tour in more than five years. He missed only five fairways all week, his best performance off the tee since the 1998 Masters.
 
It was nice to play this well going into the U.S. Open, Woods said. This is how you have to hit it in order to win U.S. Opens.
 
He managed to work in some of Muirfield Village magic along the way, surging into contention by chipping in for eagle from a nasty lie in thick rough behind the 11th green.
 
I dont even know how to describe it, said Michael Letzig, who played with Woods. It was the best golf Id ever seen.
 
Jim Furyk, part of the four-way tie on the back nine, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole that gave him a 69 and allowed him to finish alone in second. Furyk is close friends in Woods, and had been hearing the speculation that Woods was not the same.
 
I just wish you all would just quick (ticking) him off so he has to come back and keep proving stuff, Furyk said. I think he answered a lot of questions today.
 
Woods finished at 12-under 276 and won for the 67th time in his career. The timing could not have been better. He was within one shot of the lead going in to the back nine at Quail Hollow and made nothing better than par for a 72. He played in the final group at The Players Championship, couldnt find a fairway and closed with a 73.
 
On a firm, fast course under steamy sunshine at Muirfield Village, he was close to perfect.
 
It wasnt just the last two holes, it was all week, Woods said. I felt comfortable hitting it left-to-right, right-to-left. Didnt have a problem taking the ball up in the air or bringing it down. Thats what I was looking for. Thats what I was able to do at home in my practice sessions, and now its just a matter of carrying it out here onto a tournament venue and doing it.
 
After a bogey from the bunker on the 16th, Woods was tied with Furyk, Jonathan Byrd and Davis Love III.
 
But not for long.
 
His two final birdies gave him a cushion, and no one could catch him.
 
Byrd had the best chance to catch Woods. Two shots behind, he hit his approach to 4 feet on the 17th, but missed the birdie putt. Byrd finished with a meaningless double bogey for a 72 and tied for third with Mark Wilson (73).
 
Love, who could have avoided 36-hole U.S. Open qualifying Monday with a victory, got into contention with consecutive birdie putts of about 50 feet, only to miss an 8-foot birdie try on the 15th. He fell out of the hunt with a bogey from the fairway bunker on the 17th, then hitting his tee shot into the water on the 18th and closing with a triple bogey.
 
Matt Bettencourt, the PGA Tour rookie who started the final round tied with Wilson, held his own for seven holes until a three-putt bogey, followed by a chunked wedge into the water for a double bogey. He closed with a 75 and tied for fifth.
 
Letzig had never experienced such an environment as playing with Woods in the final round.
 
Ive never seen anyone hit irons like that, Letzig said. I tried not to watch him, but some of those shots were unreal.
 
Woods driving set up those iron shots. The fairways at Muirfield Village are among the most generous, but he wasnt close to missing them and often set himself up on the right side to attack the pins.
 
I dont know why everyone talks about how bad he drives it, Letzig said. Every drive I saw was perfect.
 
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."