BETHESDA, Md. – The flight of his shot into the 18th green was so pure that Tiger Woods immediately started walking and twirled his club, knowing that it effectively wrapped up another win at the AT&T National. Making it even more special was the sound of thousands of fans at Congressional to see it.
One day after spectators were kept away from the golf course because of debris from a violent wind storm, they returned Sunday in full force and got what they expected – Woods in his red shirt, outlasting Bo Van Pelt in a back-nine duel, and posing with another trophy.
Yesterday was a silent day, Woods said. I think everyone saved up for today. What an atmosphere to play in front of.
Woods closed with a 2-under 69 – at one point going 41 holes without a bogey on a Congressional course that was tougher than when it held the U.S. Open last year – and won for the third time this year. It was the 74th win of his career, moving him past Jack Nicklaus into second place on the PGA Tour, eight short of Sam Snead’s record.
Not bad for a guy who only five months ago walked off the course at Doral with another injury to his left Achilles tendon.
I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again, Woods said.
He stayed at No. 4 in the world, but a couple of other rankings indicate how he is trending. Woods moved to the top of the PGA Tour money list and the FedEx Cup standings for the first time since September 2009.
And this win puts him in a position to reclaim No. 1 over the final two majors of the year. The ranking is based on points over two years. If it were a vote, Van Pelt knows how he would cast his ballot.
Van Pelt had Woods on the ropes on the par-5 16th by ripping a 345-yard tee shot and having only a 6-iron into the green. Woods hit a spectator in the left rough with his tee shot, laid up, and then attacked a back flag only to see the ball tumble over the green and down an 8-foot slope. It looked as if it might be a two-shot swing for Van Pelt, or at least the lead going to the 17th.
That’s when Van Pelt answered with unforced errors of his own. His 6-iron was slightly heavy and didn’t quite reach the bunker, meaning he had to plant his feet in the sand and grip the wedge on the shaft for his third shot. He moved it only a few yards, still in the collar of the rough, and chipped about 12 feet by the hole. Woods’ chip up the slope rolled 15 feet by, and he missed the par putt.
Van Pelt also missed his par putt, and they walked away from that mess still tied for the lead.
LPGA: At Rogers, Ark., Ai Miyazato shot a 6-under 65 to overcome a five-shot deficit and win the NW Arkansas Championship for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year.
The Japanese star made a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to reach 12 under for the tournament, and her ninth career LPGA Tour victory was secured when Mika Miyazato missed a 15-foot birdie attempt on No. 18. Mika Miyazato had a 67, and Munoz closed with a 65.
CHAMPIONS: In Pittsburgh, Joe Daley won the Senior Players Championship for his first Champions Tour title, closing with a 2-under 68 for a two-stroke victory over Tom Lehman.
The 51-year-old Daley, winless in his PGA Tour career, had a 14-under 266 total at Fox Chapel. He earned $405,000 and full Champions Tour status for a calendar year.
Lehman finished with a 69.
EUROPEAN: In Portrush, Northern Ireland, Jamie Donaldson of Wales won his first European Tour title by shooting a 6-under 66 to clinch a four-stroke victory at the Irish Open on Sunday.
Beginning the fourth round with a one-shot lead, Donaldson birdied five of his last seven holes to shoot a fourth straight round in the 60s to total 18-under 270 and end an 11-year trophy drought that covered 255 tournaments.