The fist-pump for Tiger Woods returned in grand fashion Sunday following another epic chip shot en route to his victory at Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Memorial tournament.
With golf icon Nicklaus watching in amazement, Tiger birdied three of the last four holes to win his 73rd PGA title, his fifth Memorial title and second win since his infamous sex scandal erupted in November 2009.
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 major titles won by Nicklaus, caught Nicklaus for second on the all-time PGA win list at 73, each of them now nine back of Sam Snead’s overall 82 career triumphs.
“To be able to tie Jack at 73 wins and to do it at such a young age, it feels really special,” Woods said. “And to do it with Jack there at 18, he means a lot to all us players. He’s the greatest champion that ever lived.
“And to pull off that shot at 16, that was kind of sweet, too.It was one of the hardest ones I’ve pulled off,” Woods said. “More magic than memory, I think.”
Woods, who had felt ill and feverish entering the weekend, knew that he risked sending the ball into a water hazard on the far side of the green if he botched the shot.
“The shot was really difficult, but it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had a good lie,” Woods said.
“I went for it. I pulled it off and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise. It just fell in. I didn’t think it was going to get there at one point. And then it fell in.”
The last-roll aspect of the shot brought back memories of an epic putt at the 16th hole at Augusta National when Woods used a slope to send a putt into the cup, the ball hanging on the edge of the hole just before dropping in.
“What a shot,” Nicklaus said. “I don’t think under the circumstances I have ever seen a better shot.
Next for Tiger is the US Open – in two weeks at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.