holds off Garcia to win his second major
finally won another major championship and golf may finally have a real rivalry
to carry well into the 21st century.
Leading the PGA Championship by four strokes today, Woods stared down from the
13th tee box across Lake Kadijah at what must have looked like his reflection.
There was this kid -- at
least compared to the 23-year-old Woods -- full of everything but fear. He skipped
and sprinted down fairways, smiled and tipped his cap to an adoring gallery and
hit shots that players twice his age could never imagine.
sure he recognized me," said Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old who is called "El
Nino" and is often referred to as the European answer to Woods.
Woods surely recognized what followed. Garcia made the 15-foot birdie putt on
the par-3 13th to generate some drama on the back nine of Medinah Country Club,
then pierced the air with his fist and looked toward Woods.
wanted him to know that I was still there, and to show them that he had to finish
well," Garcia said.
Woods stumbled, but only briefly. In contention for the third straight time in
a major championship, he gathered himself in time to make a clutch par save on
the 17th hole and win the PGA Championship.
come out of it on top took everything out of me," said Woods, the youngest player
since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 to win two majors.
Woods, who had a five-stroke lead with seven holes to play, made a routine two-putt
on the 18th hole to close with an even-par 72 and a one-stroke victory over Garcia.
Woods finished at 11-under 277 and won $630,000 for his fourth PGA Tour victory
of the year and fifth win overall.
Unlike his 12-stroke victory in The Masters two years ago, Woods wasn't all smiles
over the final holes, and he didn't throw one of those windmill air punches that
have become his trademark.
This was more a sigh of relief.
And unlike that historic day at Augusta National, no one is willing to concede
that the future of golf belongs solely to Woods -- least of all Garcia.
"I said when I turned pro
that I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world," Garcia said. "And so, I knew
I was going to be a rival for Tiger."
Woods has been deflecting talk of a rivalry the past two years, whether it was
Ernie Els or Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson or even David Duval, a four-time winner
this year who was nowhere to be found today.
There can be no denying what happened today on a magical day at Medinah.
"He has a tremendous amount
of fight," Woods said. "You can just see it about him, the way he plays, the way
he walks around the golf course, that he wants to play well. And he's going to
do it any cost. It's wonderful to see."
On center stage today were the two youngest players in the field and maybe the
most dynamic in the game.
The pumping fists of Woods. The sprinting, leaping, smiling, hat-tipping Garcia.
And enough incredible shots to leave the gallery breathless -- even a gallery
that spent years watching local superstar Michael Jordan.
cascaded around the kid on the 18th green as he missed the last of two birdie
chances that kept him from becoming the youngest major champion in 131 years.
Garcia nearly upstaged
him, even in a town that Tiger seems to own.
looked like I was American," Garcia said.
Woods heard cheers -- and jeers.
knew the crowd was changing when I heard, 'Hope you don't slice it in the water'
on No. 17," Woods said. "I didn't think that was fair."
Woods, a picture of purpose from the time he set foot on the first tee, took the
lead with a 15-foot birdie on the second hole and built it to five strokes with
another birdie on the 11th.
And then came a swift, shocking turn of events that unfolded in an area of 250
yards, the distance between the 12th and 13th greens.
Garcia ripped a shot right at the flag on the 219-yard 13th, skipping down the
tee box like he fully expected it to go in, as though it were a 15-foot putt.
The ball sailed over the flag and stopped 15 feet above the hole.
Back on the 12th, Woods made his first bogey of the day by three-putting from
about 60 feet. He arrived on the 13th tee just in time to see Garcia throw down
the gauntlet. Garcia hit a decisive putt that rammed into the back of the cup.
Then came the stare.
With cockiness and defiance,
Garcia looked back at the tee toward Woods as if to say, "Take that."
Woods took a double dose of it even though he said he didn't see the stare or
the tip of the hat.
saw him make the putt and I turned away. I knew what I had to do," Woods said.
Hitting a 6-iron over the
green wasn't it.
The ball landed in rough so thick that when he chopped it out, it screamed down
the slope into more rough. He chipped that one 6 feet above the hole and missed
the putt to take double bogey.
Garcia dropped a crucial shot on the 15th when he drove into the trees, missed
the green and failed to save par with a 10-foot putt.
But he stayed in the game with his eyes wide shut -- a heroic shot that would
have made Ballesteros, his countryman and mentor, beam with pride.
His 3-wood off the 16th tee rolled through the fairway and up against one of the
4,161 trees across Medinah. The safe play -- the healthy play -- would have been
a chip back to the fairway.
Not for Garcia.
His favorite slogan is "Suerte o Muerte," which translates literally to "luck
or death." The loose definition is to go for broke with the reckless, fearless
play that describes his game.
Garcia ripped at it with a 6-iron, closing his eyes and turning his head. Then,
in a wonderful display of a teen-ager's enthusiasm, he sprinted up the fairway,
leaping like a gymnast in a floor exercise and patting his heart as a thunderous
cheer told the story. He was on the green, and he bagged an improbable par with
a two-putt from 60 feet.
Woods's victory returned him to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but
not in the style to which he's accustomed.
couldn't come in the clubhouse the way I wanted to," Woods said.
Jay Haas had a 70 and Stewart Cink a 73 to tie for third at 280. Mike Weir, who
started the final round tied with Woods, shot an 80 and finished eight strokes
as impressive as Augusta in 1997, but Woods is still on top of the world.
It was his fourth victory
in seven tournaments since April 18, and it was his seventh finish in the top
10 in only 12 majors as a professional. He also won for the third time in Chicago,
the city where Jordan, his good friend, has ruled in the '90s.
Ryder Cup drama also unfolded.
In the last tournament for American players to earn points, Bob Estes birdied
four of the first five holes on the back nine and at one point held fourth place
alone -- he needed a two-way tie for fifth to move into the top 10.
But Estes missed short par putts on the 16th and 17th and finished with a 69,
tied for sixth with Colin Montgomerie and moved up only to 11th in the standings.
Ben Crenshaw will announce
his two captain's picks Monday morning.
Garcia, meanwhile, secured a spot on Europe's team and will be the youngest player
ever in the Ryder Cup. He may get another crack at Woods, in what could be the
first of several showdowns in the years to come.