Tiger Woods claims third Masters
One by one, the best
golfers in the world stepped aside.
was Sunday at the Masters, and Tiger Woods was in the lead.
the front nine, I knew it was all over for me,'' U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen
won his third green jacket by proving he was far more daunting than a toughened
up, redesigned Augusta National. He seized control with an early burst of birdies
and watched his rivals crash in a desperate and reckless attempt to catch him.
The result was
another march into history, with Woods becoming only the third player to win back-to-back
we're going to wear this jacket out putting it on you before your career is over,''
Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson said as he slipped the size 42 long over
was Johnson who ordered the biggest renovation in club history.
was the 26-year-old Woods who wore everyone out.
Mickelson muttered through clenched teeth when his par putt slipped below the
hole on No. 7. Ernie Els took a lonely walk through the trees left of the 13th
fairway, shoulders slumped and head down. Vijay Singh covered his head with his
hands when his ball bounded into a creek on the same hole.
had the look of a champion all day.
closed with a 1-under 71 to claim a three-stroke victory over Goosen, who started
the final round tied with Woods and spent most of the day playing for second.
``You just know
Tiger is not going to make any big mistakes,'' Goosen said.
walked up the 18th fairway in a victory parade, tugging on the brim of his cap
to acknowledge the applause. When he tapped in for par a score of 12-under 276,
he hugged his parents, both decked out in red shirts -- the color he wears for
every final round.
awfully special,'' Woods said. ``For some reason, this seemed a little bit harder.
Maybe cause we played 26 holes yesterday. I'm getting just a little bit older.''
So is this story
been over this before,'' Thomas Bjorn said when asked if anyone could catch Woods.
``This being the Masters, and him being up there, it obviously puts you under
a bit of pressure.''
became the first player to repeat as Masters champion since Nick Faldo in 1990.
Jack Nicklaus was the only other, in 1965-66, and Woods' victory put him halfway
to Nicklaus' mark of six Masters.
him a couple of more years, and I think Tiger will be greater than even Jack Nicklaus,''
Last year, Woods battled Mickelson and David Duval down the
stretch to win the Masters and become the first player to sweep the four professional
tight finish loomed, with six of the top seven players in the world all poised
to win the Masters. By the end of the day, they were scratching their heads, trying
to figure out what they could do -- if anything -- to tame Tiger.
were all trying to make something happen to catch Tiger, because we knew he wasn't
going to falter,'' said Mickelson, who closed with a 71 to finish third, his 39th
major and still regarded as the best to never win one.
tried to make a charge, and wound up with an 8 by hitting into the trees and into
the creek on the par-5 13th.
the former Masters and PGA champion, got as close as two strokes before he hit
into a creek, into the crowd, into the trees. That was before he reached No. 15,
where it really got ugly. Singh hit two wedges into the water and made 9.
was the end of that,'' he said.
was over long before.
was kind of surprised, no doubt about it,'' Woods said about no one making a run.
``But that doesn't deter me from my concentration.''
won his seventh professional major, joining a list that includes Bobby Jones,
Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer, who made this Masters his 48th and
only the third player since the Masters began in 1934 to win a major four years
in a row. Nicklaus (1970-73) and Tom Watson (1980-83) also did it.
than anything, Woods reminded people how tough he is in the final round. He is
23-2 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
earned $1,008,000 for his 31st career victory, and he became the first two-time
winner on the PGA Tour this year.
didn't make a birdie until the 15th hole, but moved into second when everyone
else fell apart. The South African closed with a 74 and finished at 279.
was asking one of the officials, do I get the green pants for finishing second?''
Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal started five strokes back and was never in
the hunt. He felt no pressure and made no big mistakes, finishing with a 71 to
take fourth place at 281.
was only the second time this year that Woods failed to break 70 in the final
round, but Augusta National finally showed some bite. Shigeki Maruyama of Japan
had a 67 and was the only player to break 70.
playing in the group in front of Woods, made an early statement by hitting a 9-iron
out of the fairway bunker into 14 inches on the first hole for birdie, then making
another birdie on No. 2. Just like that, he was only two strokes behind.
also birdied the first two holes, poised to make a charge.
them all disappear.
pitched up the slope to 6 feet on No. 2 and made birdie, then spun back his approach
to 10 feet on No. 3 and made that for another birdie.
a bogey on No. 5, only his second in 44 holes, Woods was staring at another when
he went over the green on the par-3 sixth.
he buckle? No chance. Woods' chip from 20 feet went straight into the cup, and
he raised his wedge in mild celebration. There was no fist pump, no smiles, just
another methodical day of work at the Masters.
the emotion came from everyone else. Even the best of the rest realized that Woods
wins most of his tournaments by letting everyone else fall apart.
tried,'' Els said. ``We all tried.''
Woods, especially at Augusta, that isn't enough.