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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2007 > PGA Tour > The Memorial Tournament > Round 4
 

THE MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT RELATED STORIES





KJ Choi claims win with closing 65

K.J. Choi figured the best way to learn to play golf was to study books by Jack Nicklaus and spend hours watching video of golf's greatest champion. It was only fitting Choi celebrate the biggest victory of his career Sunday with a handshake from Nicklaus that was as meaningful as the trophy.

Choi ran off four straight birdies on the front nine to take the lead, then finished with three clutch par saves from the bunkers and gallery to close with a 7-under 65, giving him a one-shot victory over Ryan Moore.

Rain that pounded Muirfield Village in the morning set up a shootout among a half-dozen players, all of them with a good chance to win until they either ran out of time, ran out of birdies or took themselves out of the tournament with untimely blunders.

Choi could have been on that list.

After a two-putt birdie on the 15th to reach 17 under, he saved par from the bunker on the 16th with a 7-foot putt, chipped out of the gallery to 15 feet and made that for par on the 17th, then blasted out of the sand on the final hole to 5 feet and made that one.

Nicklaus, the tournament founder, stood behind the 18th green and waited with open arms when Choi finished at 17-under 271.

Moore ran off five straight birdies until he had to settle for par on the 18th for a 66. All he could do then was wait for Choi to make a mistake, but the South Korean was strong to the end.

"I left it in his hands," Moore said. "He had control of the tournament. It was up to him, and he played well all week and all day."

Rod Pampling, who had a three-shot lead to start the final round, gave himself a chance with a 30-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole to get within one shot of Choi. But on the 17th, Pampling went long and into the gallery, stubbed a chip and was lucky to escape with bogey. He closed with a 72 and tied for third with Kenny Perry, who shot 63 despite finishing with three straight pars.

Adam Scott also left Muirfield Village with a bitter taste.

Despite a bogey on the par-5 11th that stalled his momentum, he birdied the 15th and 16th to get within one shot, but three-putted from the fringe on the 17th, badly missing a 6-footer for par.

That meant Scott and Pampling had to hole out from the 18th fairway to force a playoff, and neither had a chance. Choi watched with Nicklaus from behind the green and hardly looked worried.

It was the fifth victory of his career, and he earned $1.08 million.

Scott closed with back-to-back bogeys for a 70, putting him at 14-under 274 with Sean O'Hair (70), Stewart Cink (69) and Fredrik Jacobson (68).

Tiger Woods made progress in his final tournament before the U.S. Open. He finally holed his share of putts and closed with a 67 to tie for 15th, then headed for Oakmont for one final practice round.

"It was progressing all week, which was nice," Woods said.

Woods walked to the practice range in the morning studying a weather map on his cell phone, and it looked as though storms would threaten most of the afternoon. All it did was soften the course and lead to a wild chase to the finish.

Even so, Pampling had a chance to set the pace. He led by three shots and had said if he kept making birdies, everyone would have to work hard to catch him.

He didn't make his first birdie until the par-5 seventh.

The tournament was wide open by then, with Perry firing the opening salvo. There was a murmur in the gallery behind the third green when the scoreboard showed Perry at 5 under for the round through six holes, the key to that start holing out from the sixth fairway for eagle. Then came a 10-foot birdie at the seventh and a 30 on the front nine.

Scott recovered from a three-putt bogey from 20 feet on the opening hole with four birdies over the next six holes to pull within one shot. O'Hair made eagle on the seventh hole for the second straight day to stay in the mix.

Choi didn't have the most sensational stretch of birdies, but perhaps the most timely. Oddly enough, his big run began with a par. He hit into the water trying to reach the par-5 fifth hole in two, but saved par with a 6-foot putt.

Then came a 10-foot birdie on the sixth, a two-putt birdie from 30 feet on the seventh, and he took the lead for the first time with a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth. And with trees slightly blocking his angle from the right side of the fairway at No. 9, his approach spun back 8 feet below the cup for his fourth straight birdie to go out in 30.

He two-putted from the fringe behind the 11th green for another birdie to reach 17 under, and no one could catch him.

Moore made his run too late, running off five straight birdies until leaving himself 191 yards to the 18th green, and not coming particularly close with a 40-foot putt.

Nicklaus offered strong praise to Choi at the closing ceremony, and he might not have to wait until next year to see him again. The victory moves Choi up to No. 7 in the International team standings for the Presidents Cup, where Nicklaus will be the U.S. captain.

 

 




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