One month after an emotional victory in the British Open, Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship with a ruthless display of efficiency Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 for a five-shot victory and his 12th career major.
He became the first player in history to go consecutive years winning at least two majors. And now, only Jack Nicklaus and his 18 professional majors stand in the way of Woods becoming golf's greatest champion.
That wasn't the case at Hoylake last month, where Woods sobbed on his caddie's shoulder after winning his first major since his father died in May. He paid tribute to Earl Woods again, his voice steady this time. He even managed a wisecrack about how his father taught him to putt.
'I kept saying all day, 'Just putt to the picture.' He actually knew what he was talking about,' Woods said.
This celebration was routine. Woods plucked the ball out of the cup and put it in his pocket, thrust his fists in the air and gave a thumbs-up sign as he walked over to pick up the Wanamaker Trophy.
'This is sweet. This is really sweet,' he said.
He became the first player to win the PGA Championship twice on the same course. Woods outlasted Sergio Garcia by one shot at Medinah in 1999. This one was never close.
Woods twice made birdie putts over 40 feet, and the margin of victory might have been greater had he not aimed for the middle of the green and lagged for par over the closing holes.
Shaun Micheel won the battle for second place, about the only drama on a sunny afternoon outside Chicago.
Even the race for the Ryder Cup fizzled, with no change in the standings.
So much for those worries about Woods after he missed the cut at the U.S. Open. He now has won his last three tournaments, the first time he has done that in five years.
'Jack Nicklaus, he's the only other guy I've ever seen who looks more comfortable leading on the back nine of a major than playing the first hole of a tournament,' Chris DiMarco said. 'And that's pretty scary. He just puts the hammer down.'
Nicklaus was home in North Palm Beach, Fla., watching his grandchildren play golf, but he saw enough of the final round on television to appreciate how easy Woods made it look.
'He's that good,' Nicklaus said. 'The guy is playing just great golf, terrific golf. From what I saw, he certainly was in total command.'
Nicklaus won his 18 majors over 25 years. Woods has won 12 in his first 10 years on the PGA Tour, and there doesn't appear to be anyone capable of stopping him.
Luke Donald was tied for the lead going into the final round at Medinah and didn't make a single birdie, closing with a 74 to finish in a tie for third at 12-under 276 with Adam Scott (67) and Garcia (70).
'He's just too good,' Micheel said after a 69, although he never got within five shots of Woods after the fourth hole. 'Unless you're at the top of your game, you just can't play with him.'
Woods is now 12-0 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
'Tiger just doesn't back up,' said Steve Stricker, who made a late bid for the Ryder Cup. 'He doesn't let anybody get close to him, especially in the last round.'
So dominant was this performance that Woods made only three bogeys the entire week, including a harmless one on the par-3 17th hole over Lake Kadijah when he was playing it safe. All that cost him was the scoring record in relation to par. He settled for 18 under, the same score he posted at Valhalla in 2000.
It was the fifth major that Woods won by at least five shots. He now has won his 12 majors by a combined 56 shots, while Nicklaus won his 18 majors by 44 shots.
That Woods has never lost a 54-hole lead in a major was enough to make some believe it was due to happen, especially on a soft course yielding low scores and a strong cast of contenders behind him.
He went 10 years before missing a cut in a major. Would this be the one he blew in the final round?
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy found water on the second hole and three-putted from 8 feet on No. 3 to disappear. Garcia chunked a wedge and made bogey on the par-5 seventh to stall his momentum. Mike Weir got within one shot of Woods at No. 5, but he couldn't keep up the pace and fell back to a 73.
Donald was in contention at a major for the first time, but not for long.
They were tied atop the leaderboard and in the wardrobe department -- both wore a red shirt -- as thousands crammed in around the putting green, the first tee and down both sides of the fairway. Donald had equal support, not only from winning an NCAA title at Northwestern, but sticking around to make Chicago his home.
Cheers of 'Luuuuuuke' followed him toward the first tee, but those hopes faded quickly. Woods hit 7-iron into 10 feet, and kept his head so still over his birdie putt that he didn't look up until it was inches from dropping for birdie.
No one caught him the rest of the day.
Donald caught a bad break when his ball landed in a muddy divot on No. 4, leading to his first bogey in 40 holes. He missed a 5-foot birdie on the par-5 fifth, and that effectively ended his tournament.
The only drama left was the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and that also turned into a snoozer.
Tim Herron needed a two-way tie for seventh and was looking good with two birdies on his first five holes, but he followed that with two straight bogeys and never recovered, shooting 73. Stricker made a late surge, needing to finish third. He got as high as a tie for sixth until the birdies dried up, he finished with a bogey for a 69 and tied for seventh.
Davis Love III finished with three straight bogeys, completing a 73-76 weekend.
The top 10 players who earned a spot on the team were Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Chad Campbell, DiMarco, Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich.
Tom Lehman will make his two captain's picks Monday morning, with Stewart Cink likely to be one of them. Cink was 12th in the standings and closed with a 69 while paired with vice captain Corey Pavin.
The question was whether he would consider Lucas Glover for his raw skill or Love for his experience, or perhaps someone else.