Tue, Aug 14, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Woods wins PGA Championship

GETTING CLOSERThe US player is now five major wins shy of matching Jack Nicklaus' record of 18, but he said catching Nicklaus was `still a long way away'

AFP , TULSA, OKLAHOMA

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the ninth hole in the final round of the PGA Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Sunday. Woods won the tournament by two strokes.

PHOTO: EPA

Tiger Woods was tested late but captured his 13th major title, fighting off back-nine charges by Woody Austin and Ernie Els to win the 89th PGA Championship by two strokes on Sunday.

World No. 1 Woods fired a final-round one-under-par 69 to finish 72 holes at Southern Hills Country Club with an eight-under par 272 with Austin second after a 67 and three-time major winner Els third on 275 after shooting a 66.

"Those guys made a run at me but I got it done somehow down the stretch," Woods said. "I kept telling myself Ernie and Woody are going to make runs but I still had the lead. They had to come get me."

Woods moved five majors shy of matching the all-time career record of 18 major triumphs set by Jack Nicklaus. Woods now has won four Masters titles, four PGA Championships, three British Opens each and two US Opens.

"When I first started my career, 18 majors seemed a long way away," Woods said. "Even though I'm at 13, it's still a long way away."

Woods claimed his 13th major crown in his 44th major start as a professional. Nicklaus took his 13th major in his 53rd pro start at the 1975 Masters and his 14th later that year at the PGA Championship.

"It's going to take some time. It took Jack 20 years to get it done," Woods said. "Hopefully health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, one day I will surpass that."

Woods improved to 13-for-13 in majors and 40-3 in PGA events when at least sharing the 54-hole lead. The last 11 PGA Championships have been won from the last pairing.

Woods began the round with a three-stroke lead and stretched the margin to as large as five after birdies at the fourth, seventh and eighth holes.

Woods curled home a dramatic 10m birdie putt from the edge of the green at the eighth, following it with a flamboyant fist pump.

"I got off to a good start. I thought I was in control," Woods said. "I felt if I played the back nine under par I'd win the tournament. But I didn't."

Woods took a bogey at nine and lipped out on a 1.6m par putt at the par-3 14th, trimming his lead to only one stroke over Austin, who had birdied three holes in a row starting at the par-3 11th, and two over Els.

"I kind of made a mess of it there at 14. Woody was playing well and Ernie was making a run," Woods said.

But Woods responded by sinking a 4m birdie putt at the 15th, pointing at the ball as he walked to the cup.

"I kept telling myself to give myself more looks at it and I'll make one or two of them," Woods said. "I made the putt at 15 and I felt I was back in control."

Indeed Woods was. Els made a bogey at 16 to doom his bid. Austin hung on for five finishing pars but never threatened again. Woods sank a 1.6m par putt at 18 to take home US$1.26 million from a US$7 million purse.

The best surprise for Woods was the presence of infant daughter Sam Alexis at the course to greet him following the victory.

"To have her here, it just brings chills to me," Woods said. "I was surprised she was here. It's just so cool."

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