5 Things: Tiger fires 67, wins 5th Memorial title
DUBLIN, Ohio - Tiger Woods showed his old flair for the dramatic on Sunday, overcoming a three-shot deficit on the back nine to win the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
With three birdies over his final four holes, Woods took home his fifth career Memorial title (see how it all happened here) and looks to be getting his game into shape for next week's U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
"That was some good stuff out there," Woods said. "I never really missed a shot today."
Here are 5 Things to take away from this weekend at Jack Nicklaus' tournament:
• • •
1. TIGER TURNS IT ON: This was vintage Woods, maybe even beyond the form that we are used to seeing from the former World No. 1.
Sitting three shots back at the turn, Woods seemed to find his other gear coming home. A day after fighting off the flu (including 102-degree temperatures), Woods didn't seem to be drained for energy.
Woods looked to be sputtering at the turn, picking up bogeys at Nos. 8 and 10 and then picking up a par at the par-5 11th hole. But a nice two-putt par from 85 feet on the 12th hole seemed to wake him up. He came within inches of an eagle at No. 15, settling for a tap-in birdie after a beautiful 3-iron from 211 yards.
Then, with what tournament host Jack Nicklaus called one of the most incredible shots he has ever seen, Woods birdied the par-3 16th after sending his tee ball long and into the rough, playing a masterful flop shot that ran down a slope in the green and trickled into the cup. It set off roars - including from Woods - and Rory Sabbatini and Spencer Levin seemed to take notice behind him. They combined to play the final three holes at 2 over.
Nicklaus was gushing from the broadcast booth. "The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I've ever seen," he said.
"Under the circumstances — the circumstances being Tiger has been struggling — it was either fish or cut bait," Nicklaus said later. "He had one place to land the ball. He's playing a shot that if he leaves it short, he's going to leave himself again a very difficult shot. If he hits it long, he's going to probably lose the tournament. He lands the ball exactly where it has to land. Going in the hole was a bonus. But what a shot!
"I don't think under the circumstances I've ever seen a better shot."
Woods sealed the victory with a 10-foot birdie at the 18th, only the second time he birdied No. 18 in the final round. He also did it when he won in 2009.
Some other tidbits from Woods' victory:
• It was his 73rd Tour victory, tying him with Nicklaus in second place, nine behind Sam Snead.
• It is the second time this season that Woods won an event in his last start before a major (he won Bay Hill before the Masters - where he finished T-40).
• Hit nearly 77 percent of fairways and 74 percent of greens in regulation. His average driving distance was only 287.3 yards, choosing to stay in play over trying for distance.
• Woods had 19 birdies on the week (tied for third in the field), but it was his T-1 finish in greens in regulation that led to victory. He was T-14 in driving accuracy but did not light up any other statistical category.
• With the victory, Woods jumps to third in the FedEx Cup rankings, while also moving to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
• He is one of three players to win twice on Tour this season, joining Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner.
• On Sunday, Woods missed only one fairway and hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation.
• • •
2. NOT WHAT HE ENVISIONED: Rickie Fowler loves the spotlight. And he made the first move Sunday in playing with Tiger Woods, carding a birdie at No. 1 to get to 6 under.
And then he imploded en route to a 12-over 84. He went from third place overnight to a share of 52nd. He had eight bogeys and three double bogeys on Sunday, with a pair of birdies mixed in.
It was Fowler's worst round as a pro. His previous worst round was a 78 at the 2009 U.S. Open.
• • •
3. LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR: Much of the field at the Memorial will make the short drive into Columbus to play in the 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Ohio State's Scarlet Course and Scioto Country Club.
Some of the big names who will play at the Columbus qualifier (which is one of 11 across the country to take place on Monday): Tour winners J.B. Holmes, John Huh, Chris DiMarco, Davis Love III, Johnson Wagner, Jhonattan Vegas and D.A. Points. Also, young Tour stars Harris English and Bud Cauley will try to qualify for the U.S. Open, set to be hosted June 11-17 at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
• • •
4. COMING UP SHORT, AGAIN: Rory Sabbatini and Spencer Levin each had opportunities to seize control at Memorial on Sunday, but failed to take advantage.
Levin lost a 54-hole PGA Tour lead for the second time this season (Waste Management Open), getting to 9 under after a birdie at No. 1, but couldn't take advantage of the scoring holes on the front nine, and then started his back nine with a bogey at 10, a bogey at 12 and a double-bogey at 13 to effectively take himself out of the tournament. With a top-three finish, Levin would have avoided the trip to Columbus to try and qualify for the U.S. Open, but his T-4 finish will force him to make the trip.
Meanwhile, Sabbatini make an initial back-nine run, taking the lead outright after a beautiful birdie at the difficult par-3 12th hole. But then a sloppy par at the par-5 15th and an ill-timed bogey at the par-3 16th left the door open for Tiger. It was only Sabbatini's second top-10 of the season (T-9 at season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions) and has missed the cut in half of his 16 starts.
• • •
5. SHORT SHOTS: While Matt Every has missed eight cuts this season, when he does play the weekend, he finishes near the top of the leaderboard, picking up his fifth top-8 finish on Sunday . . . World No. 1 Luke Donald will keep his top ranking at least one more week (No. 2 Rory McIlroy missed the cut, but is playing this week's St. Jude Classic), finishing 12th after a final-round 68 allowed him to move into red figures (1 under) for the first time since the middle of the second round . . . Coming back from brain surgery, J.B. Holmes is quietly having a solid season, finishing in the top 13 for the fourth time this season, capping the Memorial with a 5-under 67 . . . Other notables to miss the cut: Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Bill Haas, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report