Weir Comments on His Victory at Vaderrama
Relief was the operative expression for Mike Weir. After watching the penultimate hole devour the world's No. 1 player before his very eyes, the Canadian endured with a par 5 en route to his second career PGA Tour title at the WGC-American Express Championship.
Weir fired a 3-under-par 69 to better Lee Westwood, who shot 67, by two strokes. Vijay Singh and Duffy Waldorf tied for third at 8-under-par, three shots back of Weir. Overnight leader Hidemichi Tanaka finished tied for 11th after carding a 5-over-par 77 in the final round, five strokes higher than the Sunday scores posted by Tiger Woods and Nick Price, who each shot 72 and tied for fifth.
Playing in the final group with the amiable Tanaka, Weir birdied five of his first 11 holes to take sole possession of the lead at 13-under-par. A bogey at the par-3 15th trimmed a stroke off his total, but his lead remained intact entering the 71st hole.
Approaching the par-5 17th, Weir led Price by one and Tiger by two. By the time he finished the hole, Weir's nearest pursuant was Westwood - three strokes back.
Price triple-bogeyed the treacherous 17th to fall four off the lead, while Tiger carded a double-bogey to do the same. Seemingly playing it safe, Price comfortably laid-up on the reachable par-5 to within 100 yards of the hole. Price chunked his first approach shot into the water, and then laid the sod over his next attempt, which also finished wet.
An errant tee shot forced Woods to pitch out and then lay-up before attempting to cross the pond. Playing his fourth shot, Tiger hit a wedge ten feet past the stick; and as was the case a year ago in the final round, the ball spun back past the pin, down the slope and into the water. It was the fourth time in his last five rounds at Valderrama that Tiger has been bitten by the water hazard.
'I hit two good shots in there,' said an angered Woods following an even-par 72. 'Every ball I've hit in the water there have been good shots. It's just indicative of the hole. It's not a very well-designed hole and unfortunately, if you just walk around the bank, look how many balls are in the water.'
Players Comment on Valderrama's 17th Hole
Fortunately for Woods, this event moves to Bellerive in St. Louis next year.
'I'm glad we're not going to come back ever again.'
Woods ends the year with nine Tour victories and nearly $9.2 million in official earnings. Though he failed to become golf's first $10-million man, Tiger did establish several Tour records, including the lowest single-season scoring average in PGA Tour history at 68.17.
Westwood had problems of his own at the 17th. He didn't find the drink, but he did card a bogey. Still, the Englishman regrouped to par the final hole and claim second place. The runner-up finish was good enough for a $500,000 payday, thus giving the 27-year-old his first Order of Merit title over Darren Clarke, who tied for 17th this week.
'Obviously, I'm delighted,' Westwood said. 'It shows your consistency throughout the year, and to do it in that fashion means even more.'
Westwood ended the season with nearly $2.7 million in earnings, some $350,000 better than Clarke. Colin Montgomerie, who tied for 25th in Sotogrande, Spain, finished sixth in yearly earnings, the first time since 1992 he hasn't topped the Order of Merit.
Westwood Comments on Winning the Order of Merit
'It had to end some time,' Montgomerie said of his record reign. 'You can't keep doing that. I have been fortunate to say the last 12 years I have improved every year. But this year I haven't, so it's disappointing.'
On the other end of the emotional spectrum stands Weir. The 30-year-old Cannuck collected $1 million for his first victory since the 1999 Air Canada Championship and moves into sixth place on the season-ending money list.
'Air Canada was huge at the time, but this one goes up a notch with the quality of the field,' said Weir, who posted rounds of 68-75-65-69. 'I played really well this weekend. I had that disaster on 17 Friday (a triple-bogey 8), but hung in there this weekend.'
In other news, Joe Ozaki tied for 35th and picked up $39,500. Ozaki finishes the year 123rd on the PGA Tour money list, thus bumping Joey Sindelar into 126th position. The top 125 earn full playing privileges for the 2001 season.
Woods and Waldorf Comment on the Final Rd.