Masterpiece At Medinah
Tiger Woods paints Medinah No. 3 in red figures to win the PGA Championship by five shots for his 12th major
“Great artists are people who find the way to be themselves in their art.”
After the meltdown came the smack-down. On the hard ground at Hoylake, Tiger Woods showed his soft side, but on the soft ground of Medinah, he was forged steel once again.
Woods the Merciless has returned. At Royal Liverpool, he claimed the claret jug and publicly drowned the sorrow over the loss of his father, Earl, in the shoulder of his caddie, Steve Williams. At Medinah CC their 18th-green celebration after Woods savaged the field by five shots with a record-tying 18-under-par 270 in the PGA Championship looked more like a CPR chest bump to restart his lion’s heart. The patient has recovered nicely, thank you. Alert Augusta.
Going into the final round, Woods was tied at 14 under par with the 28-year-old Englishman, Luke Donald, who was trying to become the first British winner of the PGA since George V was king. While Donald, who went to Northwestern and keeps a flat in Evanston, was being greeted by the crowd like a second cousin of Jake and Elwood Blues, Woods had the honor at the first tee Sunday and didn’t surrender it until a meaningless bogey at the 17th. By then the Wanamaker Trophy was already in the trunk of his Buick. This time, it seemed, he was the one on the mission from God.
“I just had one of those magical days on the greens today,” demurred Woods. “I just felt like if I got the ball anywhere on the green, I could make it. It’s not too often you get days like that, and I happened to have it on the final round of a major championship. So it was a really neat feeling.”
Oh, sure, Adam Scott made a run, but he started Sunday seven back. The 2003 PGA champion, Shaun Micheel, played nicely to finish solo second, but he began four behind along with Sergio Garcia, who couldn’t summon the scissors kick he unveiled at Medinah in 1999. U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was within shouting distance going out Sunday but lost his voice with an opening 38. Mike Weir gave it the best run of anyone. Paired with Tiger in the last round in 1999 PGA, he stumbled home in 80. This year Weir proved he wasn’t the same player. Unfortunately, neither is Woods.
The three-time PGA champion (winning twice at Medinah to become the only player to win two PGAs at the same venue), 12-time major winner and the only man ever to win multiple majors in consecutive years, Woods just doesn’t give his rivals any reason for hope. He doesn’t beat the field, he suffocates it, sucking all the oxygen out of the air until no one can breathe but him. His foes are moths to his flame. Sunday he birdied the first hole, birdied the easy par-5 fifth and made a couple of 40-footers at the sixth and eighth for birdies to turn in four-under 32, comfortably the lowest front nine of anyone on the leader board. In ’99 he opened the door for the then 19-year-old Garcia with a three-putt bogey at the 12th and a double bogey at the 13th. There was no hint of weakness this time around. That Tiger just doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
“I’ve never seen anybody, take away Jack Nicklaus, who looks more comfortable leading on the back nine of a major than [he does] playing the first hole of a tournament, and that’s pretty scary,” said Chris DiMarco, who tried his best to chase Woods down in Liverpool. “It’s almost like he comes into his comfort zone in that situation. Other people make birdies, and he just puts the hammer down. At the end, he wins by four or five and your hat’s off to him. He’s the best.”