DUBLIN, Ohio — Tiger Woods on Sunday matched Jack Nicklaus for career PGA Tour wins, thanks to a shot that left even Nicklaus amazed.
Two shots behind with three holes to play, his ball in an impossible spot behind the 16th green, Woods holed a flop shot from 50 feet away that turned bogey into birdie and sent him on his way to a stunning comeback in the Memorial.
Woods made three birdies on his last four holes for a 5-under-par 67, matching the lowest score of the final round, and he finished in style. He hit a 9-iron to just inside 10 feet, and raised his putter — a pose that Nicklaus made famous for so many years — well before the ball tumbled into the cup.
It was his fifth win at Muirfield Village, and the 73rd of his PGA Tour career to match Nicklaus at No. 2 on the all-time list. Sam Snead won a record 82 times.
For Woods, it was a dramatic end to his worst three-tournament stretch as a pro, and it came with the U.S. Open looming.
He started the day four shots behind and wound up with a two-shot victory over Andres Romero (67) and Rory Sabbatini, who was in control of the tournament until he fell victim to some old magic by Woods.
Woods said he didn’t miss a shot all day, though the flop shot definitely stood out.
“The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I’ve ever seen,” Nicklaus said from the TV booth. “Look at the position he was in. If he’s short, the tournament is over. If he’s long, the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole.”
Nicklaus shared those thoughts with Woods as the winner walked off the 18th green. Woods smiled and said, “How about that, huh?”
Woods won for the second time this year, and moved to No. 4 in the world rankings.
This was more impressive than his five-shot win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March, when he had a one-shot lead on a course where he could get by with par. The Memorial required much more work, especially when he had to go after birdies in the final hour. And that’s what he did.
He reached the par-5 15th into the wind in two shots to set up a two-putt birdie and get within one shot of Sabbatini. But just like that, it looked as if his chances were over when his tee shot bounded into a tough lie behind the green.
“I had to take a cut at it …,” Woods said. “It came out just perfect.”
Woods took a full swing and the ball came out soft and began tracking toward the hole. It caught the right edge of the cup and dropped for a most improbable birdie. Woods took two steps to the left and delivered a full uppercut not seen from him in some time.
Sabbatini didn’t need to see the shot. He was on the 15th green, scrambling for par, when Muirfield Village shook with the loudest roar of the day. The South African suddenly was tied for the lead, but not for long. He hit his tee shot into the right bunker on the 16th, the third-hardest hole Sunday that yielded just four birdies, and then blasted out to just inside 15 feet and took bogey to fall one shot behind.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Kirk Triplett put together the best round of golf anyone has ever played in the Principal Charity Classic. But Jay Haas was brilliant for three rounds instead of one. Haas finished with a 16-under 197 total to win the tournament by five strokes, becoming the first golfer to win the Champions Tour event in Iowa three times.
Haas, the winner in 2007 and 2008, led by three shots after shooting a 65 in the second round and made it stand up with a final round 5-under 66. His 16-under tied the tournament mark set by Gil Morgan in 2006 and matched the largest victory of the season on the Champions Tour.
Triplett set the course record with a 9-under 62 and finished second at 11-under 202 along with Larry Mize.
GALLOWAY, NJ. — Stacy Lewis shook off a rough stretch in the middle of the final round and finished with an even-par 71 at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, good enough for a four-stroke victory over Katherine Hull at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
The 27-year-old Lewis, who was 12-under for the tournament, likely will be the top-ranked American when the LPGA rankings are updated today. According to LPGA projections, she will be No. 3. That would put her in front of Cristie Kerr, who has been the top-ranked American since November of 2009.