Tiger tames Medinah, field to win PGA, 12th major

8/23/2006 - Golf Tiger Woods

MEDINAH, Ill. -- An emotional wreck at Hoylake, a machine at

Tiger Woods went from brown fairways to lush greens, from pure
irons to perfect putting, from silver claret jug to shiny Wanamaker

For all those changes, from one major to the next, this much
stayed very much the same:

Woods overwhelmed his competition again Sunday, closing with a
4-under 68 for a five-shot victory in the PGA Championship, giving
him 12 career majors and leaving only Jack Nicklaus and his 18
titles in his way.

It started with a 10-foot birdie on the first hole to take the
lead. It ended with a tap-in for par, and a celebration so routine
that Woods merely plucked the ball from the cup, stuck it in his
pocket, quickly raised both fists and walked off the green with a
smile that never left his face.

No tears.

No sweat, either.

One month after his victory at the British Open, where he sobbed
on his caddie's shoulder while remembering his late father, Woods
became the first player in history to go consecutive years winning at
least two majors.

"It wasn't the same as Hoylake, maybe just because I was in
contention to win a major after my dad passed," Woods said. "It
was just a totally different feeling."

But there was no mistaking the result.

Woods built a four-shot lead at the turn and might have broken
his scoring record at the PGA Championship if he had been pushed.
Instead, he played for the middle of the green and lagged his
putts, finishing at 18-under 270.

Along the way, his competition could do nothing but watch.

"He's just too good," said Shaun Micheel, who closed with a 69
and won the battle for second place. "Unless you're at the top of
your game, you just can't play with him."

Asked about his father, who died of cancer in May, Woods offered
a warm smile and a wisecrack about Pop's first lesson.

"I kept saying all day, 'Just putt to the picture.' That's how
I first learned how to putt," Woods said. "He actually knew what
he was talking about."

That club was largely responsible for this major. Along with an
opening birdie, Woods added 40-foot birdie putts on Nos. 6 and 8,
sweeping his putter to sunny skies with his head down as he walked
to the hole.

Woods became the first player to win the PGA Championship twice
on the same course. He outlasted Sergio Garcia at Medinah in 1999,
the start of one of the most dominant stretches in golf.

This was his third straight victory, and could signal another
big run.

"That, and the experience of seven years," Woods said. "Yeah,
I feel like things are pretty darn good right now."

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. He now is 12-0 when his name
is atop the leaderboard going into the last round of a major.

"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 in an e-mail. "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).

"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

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

Cheers of "Luuuuuuke" followed him toward the first tee, but
they 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 in.

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

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 and is not likely to be picked.

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. Another player under consideration is Lucas Glover, who was
14th in the standings and shot 72 on Sunday and tied for 46th.