WITH the help of a miraculous wedge shot on the 16th, Tiger Woods tied the Jack Nicklaus tour wins record today on the Golden Bear’s own course.
It really was the Woods of old who rallied from behind with three birdies on his last four holes to take the 2012 Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio by two strokes.
Watching in the commentary box, Nicklaus said Woods’ chip in on the 16th “was the most unbelievable shot I’ve ever seen.”
Woods moved to 73 US PGA Tour wins to join Nicklaus behind Sam Snead who still leads the way with 82.
“It’s been a nice run since I turned pro,” an understated Woods said in a greenside interview immediately afterwards. “To do it at age 36 is not too shabby. I feel very proud of what I’ve done so far and I think I’ve still got a few good years in front of me.”
Nicklaus, who designed the Muirfield Village Golf Course and each year hosts the Memorial event, was 46 when he set his record mark after winning the 1986 US Masters.
A rejuvenated Woods looked set to resume his interrupted quest for the Nicklaus record of 18 Majors.
The US Open in two weeks would be the first of the four he needs to tie that record. The 2012 Open will be held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco from June 14 to 17.
Watching a highlight reel of Woods chipping in for birdie on the 16th probably won’t do the shot or the moment justice.
Woods was two strokes behind tournament leader Rory Sabatini with three holes to play. He had a bad lie in deep rough and needed to land a flop shot inch perfect on a rock-hard green just to ensure he’d keep it on the putting surface and out of the water. From around 50 foot out, he holed it.
“The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I’ve ever seen,” Nicklaus said. “Look at the position he was in. If he’s short, the tournament is over. If he’s long, the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole.”
Woods was beaming about his overall play, and in particular that shot.
“The lie wasn’t all that great, if I had a good lie then it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had to take a cut out of it because the lie wasn’t that great, and it came out just perfect,” he said.
Woods had started the day four shots behind and after a final birdie on the 18th ended with a 5-under 67 to be 9-under for the tournament.
That was two-shots in front of a surging Andres Romero (67) and Rory Sabbatini (72), who was seemingly in control of the tournament until the very end.
Aaron Baddeley (72) was the best placed Aussie finishing on 2-under tied for 9th.
World No.1 Luke Donald was a shot further back on 1-under after closing with a 68, while defending US Open Champion Rory McIlroy missed his third cut in a row.2012 Memorial Tournament Final Results