DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — For those who thought Tiger Woods' run as the world's best golfer was over, the 747-sized roar that emanated from the 16th green at Muirfield Village likely shocked them to their senses. With one flick of his wrists, Woods reminded everyone of who he was and what he has done. Woods slid a 60-degree sand wedge under a ball hidden by tall grass behind the 16th green, popped the ball straight up into the air, where it seemed to hang for an instant, and then watched as it rolled ever so slowly toward the cup before dropping in for a 50-foot birdie that tied him for the lead at the recent Memorial Tournament.
If that birdie served notice, then another on a sneaky-fast 10-foot downhill putt at the 18th assured him his fifth victory at the tournament that Jack Nicklaus built.
So, Tiger was asked, do you think you're back?
“I won,” he responed with a wide smile. “I'm sure by Tuesday I'll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the U.S. Open (at Olympic Club in San Francisco in 11 days) it might be something different. But I'll let you guys figure that out.”
Adding to the weight of the moment, the win tied Woods with Nicklaus — the tournament founder and host who handed him the crystal trophy on the 18th green — with 73 tour wins for second behind Sam Snead's record 82.
Woods said it was “awfully special” to tie Nicklaus at the Golden Bear's own tournament.
After he had accepted the trophy from Nicklaus and the $1.1 million that went with it, and after he had moved to No. 4 in the world rankings, Woods was asked if at 36 he still has enough to play at the same level of excellence from his earlier days.
“Uh-huh,” he said.
Photo: Tiger Woods