K.J. Choi Jack Nicklaus 'protege' K.J. Choi captures the Memorial Tournament

Two decades after learning to play golf with a major assist from a Jack Nicklaus instructional book, K.J. Choi won the Nicklaus-hosted Memorial Tournament Sunday.

Sand saves at Nos. 16 and 18 and a 15-foot par putt on the 17th helped the 37-year-old South Korean finish at 17-under 271, one shot ahead of Ryan Moore, and claim the $1.08 million prize at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

Choi, who as a teenager received a translated copy of Nicklaus' Golf My Way from a physical-education teacher, closed with a 7-under 65 to come back from five shots down at the start of the final round.

"My PE teacher at the time told me - I was only 16, 17 - he said, 'If you become a professional golfer there's a good future ahead of you,'" Choi told reporters at his post-round press conference. "So that's why I started reading the book and got a feel for what Jack was trying to teach.

"At the beginning when I tried it the way he told me to do it, it just felt really good."

Choi started fast Sunday, recording six birdies on the front nine. He made birdies on Nos. 11 and 15 to offset a bogey at No. 13 en route to his fifth PGA Tour victory and his third top-10 finish of the season.

"It's hard to describe in words how meaningful it is, but I just feel very honored and just very happy to be living in the same age, same period, same time as Jack is living and to win his tournament," said Choi, who moved from 36th to eighth on the FedEx Cup points list with the win. "I can only think that this was meant to be."

Moore shot a 6-under 66 to for his third Tour runner-up finish. He also came in second at the 2006 Buick Championship and the 2005 Bell Canadian Open.

"It's just great having a chance coming up 18," said Moore, who birdied five straight holes before the closer. "It's a feeling I haven't had in a long time, so it was nice."

Kenny Perry blistered the course for a 9-under 63 to surge into a third-place tie with third-round leader Rod Pampling, who struggled to a final-round 72. Perry's total was the lowest final-round score in the tournament's 32-year history.

Tiger Woods finally got his game rolling with a final-round 67, moving him to 9 under for the tournament and into a six-way tie for 15th. It was the three-time Memorial winner's worst finish at the tournament since tying for 22nd in 2002 and marked the first time since last spring that the world No. 1 failed to crack the top 10 in consecutive PGA Tour events.

Still, Woods told reporters he considered his Memorial performance a step toward his goal of winning the U.S. Open. He said he plans to head to Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, the site of this year's Open, for a practice round Monday.

Woods finished his front nine eagle-birdie-birdie but closed out the round with seven straight pars. He said he felt he made only two bad putts, on Nos. 6 and 18.

"Today was something I needed to have on the greens today. I hit so many good putts," Woods said. "Those are the only two bad putts I hit all day. Sixteen good ones, that's not too bad."

June 4, 2007

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