2002: PGA European - Deutschland dismissal

St. Leon-Rot, Germany

You couldn’t have asked for a better showdown than the final round of the $2.5 million Deutsche Bank–SAP Open TPC of Europe. The best golfer on the planet took on the best in Europe with a potential superstar lurking in the background.

Tiger Woods justified his estimated $2.5 million appearance fee by helping draw 78,000 spectators to the St. Leon Rot course near Heidelberg. The 20,000 who showed up for the final day May 20 did not go home disappointed. They watched Woods play in the final group against Colin Montgomerie in a classic shootout. One group behind was 21-year-old Justin Rose, a three-time winner worldwide this year.

“I only missed five greens in regulation all week, which is pretty good ball-striking,” Woods said. “I hit the ball well all week, and with the greens being as soft as they are, you know the ball isn’t going to get away from you.”

Montgomerie took Woods to a three-hole playoff after the pair finished regulation at 20 under par. Montgomerie lost the title when his approach shot from a fairway bunker found water to the right of the green on the third playoff hole (No. 18). Woods made a par 4 to take the title for the third time in four years. He also won at St. Leon-Rot in 1999 and 2001.

Woods earned the first-place check of $414,509 after rounds of 69-67-64-68. Montgomerie picked up $276,339 for finishing second, and Rose ended one stroke out of the playoff to earn $155,690.

The final round did not duplicate the fireworks of Woods’ third-round 64, but it did produce the best final round in Europe in many years. Montgomerie started the final day one stroke ahead of Woods, and fired a final round of 69.

Woods took the title in what might be his last appearance in the tournament. Next year, the Deutsche Bank is scheduled to clash with the Byron Nelson Classic, a tournament Woods probably won’t want to miss.

Woods took advantage of the revamped St Leon Rot layout. Only the first and 18th holes remained of the course Woods tamed last year with a 22-under-par total. With the greens nice and soft, Woods was able to fire at the pins all week.

Montgomerie, who injured his back during the Johnnie Walker Championship in Australia at the start of the season, re-injured it on the third hole in the third round. He still managed a 7-under-par 65 in the third round, but his post-round news conference was more about his back injury than it was about going head to head with Woods.

“It was a good effort considering my physical condition,” Montgomerie said. “This morning I was about to pull out. I couldn’t play. In the circumstances, I’m very proud to go out there and shoot 69 today. It was a real effort. I thought at the start of the day that 80 was reasonable and maybe 75, but 69 is very, very good.”

Rose had talked earlier in the week about wanting to get to the stage where he can compete with Woods on a regular basis. Based on the evidence in Germany, he’s approaching his goal.

Except for a mental mistake on No. 18, where he hit driver off the tee instead of 3-wood, Rose might have won the tournament. He drove into the deep rough to the right of the fairway and could only hack the ball out back into play. He managed to make par, and then looked ahead to his goal of making the U.S. Open.

“This will help my chances of getting into the U.S. Open and closer to the top 50 in the world,” Rose said. “It was a big up and down at the last. It was a test of myself, and I proved I could do it under the pressure.”

Former University of Georgia standout Nick Cassini made his first cut this season in Europe, shooting 291 to tie for 70th. John Daly shot 73-73 to miss the cut.

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