Woody Austin isn't washed up yet. Not by a long shot.
After struggling for much of the PGA Tour season, the 43-year-old fired an 8-under-par 62, turning a four-shot deficit into a run-away five-stroke victory Sunday in the Stanford St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind. Austin's career-low round of 62 marked the lowest final-round performance by a winner on the PGA Tour this season.
Austin played the final 49 holes of the tournament without making a bogey, prompting a reporter to ask him in his post-round press conference if he'd ever played a better round of golf.
"Every shot was solid, every shot was where I was trying to hit it," Austin told reporters. "So, from that standpoint, probably not, especially under these circumstances."
Austin picked up his third PGA Tour victory, earning a winner's check of $1.08 million. He also jumped from 145th to 29th in the FedEx Cup standings to give him some momentum heading into this week's U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, securing a berth in the top 144 and the first FedEx Cup playoff tournament, The Barclays.
Earlier this season, Austin admits he was starting to consider the possibility that his PGA Tour career might be on the verge of fizzling out.
"I've been pretty miserable all year," said Austin, who recorded his first top-10 finish since tying for seventh in the 2006 Buick Open. "In the back of my head all I keep thinking is that it's coming to an end.
"Nothing was clicking, nothing was going my way and like I said, the game has changed so much that it's passing the older guys by more and more."
That changed Sunday.
Austin got his round off to a good start with a birdie at No. 2 and then eagled the par-5 third hole to move to 8-under for the tournament. While third-round leader Adam Scott was having a meltdown on his way to a final-round 75, Austin poured it on with five birdies on the back nine.
A self-taught player, Austin said had been struggling to get into the groove with his swing. However, he said he believed prior to the tournament that he was on the verge of a positive breakthrough — thanks to the help of caddy Brent Henley.
"I don't have a teacher, so it may take me a little while to figure out all my problems I have as far as my swing," Austin said. "I'm a very old fashioned, feel player and when it feels right I know I'm in good shape. When it feels wrong, it may take me a little while to kind of get it and I felt like I figured out a few things at Colonial."
Brian Davis shot a final-round 66 to finish alone in second place at 8 under par in his first St. Jude Championship start. Two-time champion David Toms continued his strong play in Memphis, Tenn., finishing third at 7 under.
John Daly, who continued to play despite accusing his wife, Sherrie, of attacking him with a steak knife early Friday morning, finished 79th. He was tied for 18th after a first-round 70.
Scott entered the day with a three-shot lead and was tied with Austin at 10 under after 12 holes, but then completely fell apart. After back-to-back birdies at Nos. 11 and 12, the Australian bogeyed No. 13, triple bogeyed the par-3 14th and, after a birdie at the 15th, finished with three consecutive bogeys to end in seventh place at 4 under.
Certainly, it wasn't the performance the world's No. 4-ranked player was looking for heading into the U.S. Open. Scott, who shot 67, 66 and 68 in his first three rounds, said his downward spiral at No. 14 started with his own indecision.
"On 14, (I) just didn't commit to it on the shot and hit it into the water," Scott said in his post-round interview. "I proceeded to triple the hole and was not really good. That was the end of my week."
June 11, 2007
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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