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Dramatic shot lifts Woods to stirring win at Memorial

- Associated Press - Sunday, June 3, 2012

DUBLIN, Ohio — Tiger Woods picked the right place to match Jack Nicklaus for career PGA Tour wins, and with a shot that even left Nicklaus amazed.

Two shots behind with three holes to play, his ball in an impossible spot behind the 16th green, Woods holed a flop shot from 50 feet away that turned bogey into birdie and sent him on his way to a stunning comeback Sunday in the Memorial.

Woods made three birdies on his last four holes for a 5-under 67, matching the lowest score of the final round, and he finished in style. He hit 9-iron to just inside 10 feet, and raised his putter — a pose that Nicklaus made famous for so many years — well before the ball tumbled into the cup.

It was his fifth win at Muirfield Village and the 73rd of his PGA Tour career to match Nicklaus at No. 2 on the all-time list. Sam Snead won 82 times.

For Woods, it was a dramatic end to his worst three-tournament stretch as a pro, and it came with the U.S. Open looming.

He started the day four shots behind and wound up with a two-shot victory over Andres Romero (67) and Rory Sabbatini, who was in control of the tournament until he fell victim again to some old magic by Woods.

Woods said he didn't miss a shot all day, though that flop shot stands out.

"The most unbelievable, gutsy shot I've ever seen," Nicklaus said from the TV booth. " ... If he's short, the tournament is over. If he's long, the tournament is over. He puts it in the hole."

Nicklaus shared those thoughts with Woods as the winner walked off the 18th green. Woods smiled and said, "How about that, huh?"

Woods won for the second time this year, and moved to No. 4 in the world.

This was more impressive than his five-shot win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March, when he had a one-shot lead on a course where he could get by with par. The Memorial required much more work, especially when he had to go after birdies in the final hour. And that's what he did.

He reached the par-5 15th into the wind in two shots to set up a two-putt birdie and get within one shot of Sabbatini. But just like that, it looked as if his chances were over when his tee shot bounded through the green and into a tough lie behind the green.

Woods is famous for chipping in at Memorial, particularly on the 14th hole. This was tougher by a mile, on fast greens with a shot that required close to perfection.

"I had to take a cut at it because the lie wasn't as great," he said. "It came out just perfect."

With a full swing, the ball came out soft and began tracking toward the hole. It caught the right edge of the cup and dropped for a most improbable birdie, and Woods took two steps to the left and delivered a full uppercut not seen from him in some time.

Sabbatini didn't need to see it. He was on the 15th green, scrambling for par, when Muirfield Village shook with the loudest roar of the day. The South African suddenly was tied for the lead, but not for long. He hit his tee shot into the right bunker on the 16th, the third-hardest hole Sunday that yielded only four birdies, and then blasted out to just inside 15 feet and took bogey to fall one behind.

That was all Woods needed.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

Haas wins in Principal Charity

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Jay Haas finished with a 16-under 197 total to win the Principal Charity Classic by five strokes, becoming the first golfer to win the Champions Tour event in Iowa three times.

Haas, the winner at Glen Oaks Country Club in 2007 and 2008, led by three shots heading into Sunday and made it stand up with a final round 5-under 66.

Kirk Triplett set the course record with a 9-under 62 and finished second at 11-under 202 along with Larry Mize.

LPGA TOUR

Lewis claims 4-shot victory

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Stacy Lewis shot par 71 to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic by four strokes over Katherine Hull. Lewis finished 54 holes at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club at 12-under par 201.

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