Moving Up the Charts
Monday, August 13, 2007
TULSA, Aug. 12 -- A season of first-time major winners ended with a familiar champion -- Tiger Woods, who seems to win them all.
Challenged only briefly Sunday along the back nine of steamy Southern Hills, Woods captured the PGA Championship to win at least one major for the third straight season and run his career total to 13 as he moves closer to the standard set by Jack Nicklaus.
Woods closed with a 1-under-par 69 for a two-shot victory over Woody Austin, a gritty journeyman whose consolation prize was earning a spot on the U.S. team for the Presidents Cup.
Ernie Els also made a brief run at Woods, but the ending was all too familiar.
The only thing different about this title was how it ended. 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, walking into the scoring room with wife, Elin, holding their 2-month-old daughter, Sam Alexis.
Naturally, the kid was dressed in red.
"That's a feeling I've never experienced before," Woods said. "To have her here, it brings chills to me. I was surprised she was out here, to see her and Elin there. It's just so cool."
Woods, who has never lost a tournament when leading by more than one entering the last round, stretched his three-shot lead to five with back-to-back birdies that appeared to siphon all the drama out of the final major of the year. 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.
Woods hit two perfect shots on the 15th and holed a 10-footer for birdie, pointing to the cup after it fell.
"Winning becomes almost a habit," Els said after his 66. "Look at Tiger."
Woods, who finished at 8-under 272, now has more majors than the rest of the top 10 in the world combined. At age 31, he is well ahead of the pace Nicklaus set when he won his record 18 professional majors. Nicklaus was 35 when he won his 13th.