Tiger grabs major No. 13

Monday, August 13, 2007
Tiger Woods celebrated Sunday after winning the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. (Rob Carr ~ Associated Press)

Woods shared the victory with his wife and daughter.

TULSA, Okla. -- The 13th major for Tiger Woods looked like so many others until he finished.

His father is no longer alive for Woods to walk into his arms. His mother no longer travels to any major but the Masters. He now shares his triumphs with a wife and baby daughter, and the biggest surprise Sunday at the PGA Championship was seeing them when he walked into the scoring trailer to sign for a 69 and a two-shot victory.

Naturally, 2-month-old Sam Alexis was decked out in red.

"It's a feeling I've never had before," Woods said after turning back a brief scare to win the final major of the year. "Having Sam there and having Elin there, it feels a lot more special. And it used to be my mom and dad. And now Elin, and now we have our own daughter. So it's evolved, and this one feels so much more special than the other majors."

Tiger Woods hit on the fourth fairway Sunday during the final round of the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. (Morry Gash ~ Associated Press)

On the golf course, it was the same old story.

With his five-shot lead trimmed to a single stroke, Woods kept his cool in temperatures that reached 102 degrees. He hit 7-iron to 10 feet on the 15th hole for a birdie that gave him some breathing room, and the bold drive on the 16th -- Woods twirled the club in his hand when he saw it split the middle -- was the sure sign this major was over.

Woody Austin (67) and Ernie Els (66) made spirited runs, but that wasn't nearly enough.

And so, a season of first-time winners in the majors ended with a most familiar champion. His fourth PGA Championship gave him 13 majors, leaving him only five short of the benchmark set by Jack Nicklaus, and well ahead of the pace set by the Golden Bear.

Woods, 31, won his 13th major in his 44th start. Nicklaus was 35 when he won his 13th major in his 53rd try as a pro.

Tiger Woods holds up the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007. Woods won his 13th major tournament with an 8-under-par. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

He is so dominant in his era that Woods now has more majors (13) then the rest of the top 10 in the world ranking combined (12).

He finished at 8-under 272 and won for the fifth time this year.

This by far was the biggest, especially after coming in second at the Masters and the U.S. Open.

"It turned into a great year," Woods said. "I felt like I've played well most of the year, and just didn't quite get it done in the first two major championships. And then on Sunday afternoon, just didn't get it done. This time I did."

Austin, a 43-year-old former bank teller, had a 12-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole that would have tied him for the lead. That was as close as he got, although it was quite a consolation. His runner-up finish was enough for him to make the Presidents Cup team.

Woody Austin hits out of a trap on the 17th hole during the final round of the 89th PGA Golf Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007. (AP Photo/)

"I think it's great that Ernie and I didn't let him just coast in," Austin said.

Despite missing birdie putts inside 8 feet on the ninth and 11th holes, Els was one shot off the lead until pulling his tee shot into the trees on the 16th and taking bogey. He wound up alone in third.

"To come back from six back against the world's No. 1 was always going to be tough," Els said. "But I gave it a shot."

For the second time in his career, Woods has gone three straight years winning a major, and it was the fourth time he has hoisted the heavy Wanamaker Trophy, one short of the record held by Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.

The only thing different about this title was how it ended.

Ernie Els chipped out of a bunker on the 12th green Sunday. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)

Woods became the first major champion in seven tries to make a par on the 72nd hole at Southern Hills. And it was his first major as a father; Sam Alexis was born the Monday after the U.S. Open.

Elin and Sam arrived in the middle of the week, their first trip to a tournament. Woods did not know they were coming to the course.

"I wasn't really paying attention when I saw them," he said. "I was so excited and just wanted to give Elin and Sam a kiss and get back to signing my scorecard."

Woods is now 13-0 when he has at least a share of the lead going into the final round. The margin was three shots this time, and he stretched it to five with consecutive birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 that seemed to siphon all the drama out of Southern Hills. Austin made a surprising charge, however, and Woods three-putted for bogey on the 14th that dropped his lead to one.

That was as close as it got.

Woody Austin took his second shot on the ninth hole during the final round Sunday at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. (Charlie Riedel ~ Associated Press)

Austin, playing in only his 15th major, made three straight birdies starting at the par-3 11th, none bigger than a 60-footer he chipped in from the front of the 12th green, tugging his ear to get the crowd jacked up.

"I was trying to get them to go crazy for someone else, so he'd know there's someone else out here," Austin said. "There's no roar like his. It was nice to hear the loudest one I've ever heard for me."

But it wasn't enough.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: