TULSA, Okla. - On the hottest day of the year in Tulsa, in the hottest major golf tournament in history, the hottest golfer on the planet did what he does best - stayed on top of the leaderboard.
Woods shot his second consecutive 69 to go with his record-tying 63 Friday, giving him a four-round total of 272, eight under par. The PGA Tour's Aaron Oberholser and John Senden tied for fourth with four-round totals of 279, seven strokes behind Woods. Those five were the only players under par in a tournament that took on a difficult course (Southern Hills Country Club) under trying conditions.
"Those guys made good runs, but I just kept telling myself I had the lead," Woods said after winning his second straight PGA Championship and fourth overall.
Woods saw a five-stroke lead shrink to one shot at one point, but shifted into overdrive under pressure like only he can, and walked away with his first and only major of the year.
"Now I can say it's been a great year," Woods said.
When the last putt fell, Woods snatched the ball out of the hole and raised his arms aloft in triumph, as the huge crowd circling the 18th green roared in awe and appreciation.
It was Woods' 13th major tournament win, and he now trails Jack Nicklaus by five. For the top player in the world, this one was special for a personal reason.
"This one feels a lot more special than the others," Woods said, referring to the fact his new daughter, Sam Alexis, was in attendance along with her mother Elin. "It's a feeling I've never had before. It feels a whole lot more special when your family is there."
Entering the final round with a three-shot lead, Woods won as almost everyone predicted he would, but his victory wasn't as inevitable as many thought.
Els was on fire, with three birdies on the front nine. He birdied No. 10 when he became one of the few players to use driver, then birdied Nos. 13 and 14 and trailed Woods by a stroke.
But, Woods also birdied No. 15 and Els bogeyed No. 16 while Austin could only manage par the last four holes.
"Like I said on Friday, you can't give that man that much of a cushion," Austin said of the lead Woods held onto.
Especially when the heat was ravaging most of the field. The tournament averaged 101 degrees with heat indexes much higher, but Sunday was the worst, with the sun beating down like a malevolent being and no breeze or cloud cover to make it bearable.
"I felt it today," said Els. "The whole week was OK, but some of those holes out there today, I thought I was going to go down, I tell you. It was really warm today. I don't know what it was today, but it felt like the warmest day of the week."
The heat made it even harder to catch a tiger by the tail. Woods acknowledged his superb conditioning might have played a factor.
"Physical fitness is always a huge advantage," he said. "When I walked up 18, I felt like I did on No. 1. I felt fresh all week. Other guys may have gotten tired, but I felt fine."
Stephen Ames, who started the day in the final pairing with Woods, wilted early, starting off with two bogeys. He ended the day with a 76 and finished in a tie for 12th.
Still, the relatively narrow win gave Woods' pursuers a glimmer of hope, something they could use in their continuing efforts to escape Woods giant shadow.
"I'm not quite there yet, where I think I can be," Els said. "But, if I get up to this next level where I want to be, maybe at least I can give him a real go, a run for his money."
"Because somebody needs to step up; he's playing some awesome golf."
August 13, 2007
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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