Tiger Ties Legend Nicklaus with Dramatic 73rd PGA Tour Victory
(CNN) — Tiger Woods tied Jack Nicklaus on 73 PGA Tour victories after sinking a sensational chip from off the green late in the final round of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.
The former world No. 1 was congratulated by the legendary “Golden Bear” after completing a five-under-par 67 which gave Woods a two-shot victory.
Nicklaus, who founded the Ohio tournament and designed its Muirfield Village course, said the 36-year-old’s chip from the rough at the par-three 16th hole was “the gutsiest and best shot I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Woods’ second victory this year left them second equal in the all-time PGA list, nine behind the late Sam Snead.
“I’ve been very proud of what I’ve done so far and I feel like I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me,” said Woods, who raised his hopes of a first major win since 2008 at this month’s U.S. Open at San Francisco’s Olympic Club. He has 14 already — four behind Nicklaus’ record total.
“I’m excited, because I’m hitting the golf ball real well — and at Olympic the people who have done well there have hit the ball well,” Woods said.
While Woods ended a 30-month wait for a PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, he then struggled to maintain that form as he finished 40th at the Masters, missed the cut at Quail Hollow and then tied for 40th at the Players Championship.
He has had to defend himself from criticism over the work he is doing with coach Sean Foley to rebuild his swing, but if Woods needs evidence of a turning point in his fortunes then he will look no further than the 16th hole at Muirfield.
Having hit his tee shot into the deep rough, he took aim with a wedge. As the gathered spectators inevitably cried “Get in the hole!” the ball did just that — and Woods exploded with trademark fist pumping that was once a regular sight on the golf circuit before marital problems and injuries took their toll on his fortunes.
“I knew if I hit it short it would have been down and left, if I hit it long it was in the water,” Woods said of his chip.
“The lie wasn’t all that great, that was the hard part. I had to take a cut at it, and it came out just perfect.”
He trailed leader Spencer Levin by four shots going into the final round, but four birdies in his first seven holes kept him in contention — and three in the last four gave him his fifth victory at the event and first since 2009.
Woods’ 67 was the equal best round of the day, matching that of Argentina’s Andres Romero — who tied for second with South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini.
Levin, still seeking his first PGA Tour win, carded 75 to tie for fourth with compatriot Daniel Summerhays (69).