81st US PGA Championship
81st US PGA Championship
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Final Round Features
Fans upset Montgomerie again
Price starts quickly, then fades
Move over Tiger-mania, here's 'El Nino'
Weir collapses with final round 80
Key putt on 17 seals Championship
Woods holds off Garcia to win his second major
Resurgent Mark James praises Garcia

Woods holds off Garcia to win his second major

Tiger Woods finally won another major championship and golf may finally have a real rivalry to carry well into the 21st century.

Leading the PGA Championship by four strokes today, Woods stared down from the 13th tee box across Lake Kadijah at what must have looked like his reflection.

There was this kid -- at least compared to the 23-year-old Woods -- full of everything but fear. He skipped and sprinted down fairways, smiled and tipped his cap to an adoring gallery and hit shots that players twice his age could never imagine.

"I'm sure he recognized me," said Sergio Garcia, the 19-year-old who is called "El Nino" and is often referred to as the European answer to Woods.

Woods surely recognized what followed. Garcia made the 15-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th to generate some drama on the back nine of Medinah Country Club, then pierced the air with his fist and looked toward Woods.

"I wanted him to know that I was still there, and to show them that he had to finish well," Garcia said.

Woods stumbled, but only briefly. In contention for the third straight time in a major championship, he gathered himself in time to make a clutch par save on the 17th hole and win the PGA Championship.

"To come out of it on top took everything out of me," said Woods, the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros in 1980 to win two majors.

Woods, who had a five-stroke lead with seven holes to play, made a routine two-putt on the 18th hole to close with an even-par 72 and a one-stroke victory over Garcia. Woods finished at 11-under 277 and won $630,000 for his fourth PGA Tour victory of the year and fifth win overall.

Unlike his 12-stroke victory in The Masters two years ago, Woods wasn't all smiles over the final holes, and he didn't throw one of those windmill air punches that have become his trademark.

This was more a sigh of relief.

And unlike that historic day at Augusta National, no one is willing to concede that the future of golf belongs solely to Woods -- least of all Garcia.

"I said when I turned pro that I wanted to be the No. 1 golfer in the world," Garcia said. "And so, I knew I was going to be a rival for Tiger."

Woods has been deflecting talk of a rivalry the past two years, whether it was Ernie Els or Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson or even David Duval, a four-time winner this year who was nowhere to be found today.

There can be no denying what happened today on a magical day at Medinah.

"He has a tremendous amount of fight," Woods said. "You can just see it about him, the way he plays, the way he walks around the golf course, that he wants to play well. And he's going to do it any cost. It's wonderful to see."

Sound familiar?

On center stage today were the two youngest players in the field and maybe the most dynamic in the game.

The pumping fists of Woods. The sprinting, leaping, smiling, hat-tipping Garcia. And enough incredible shots to leave the gallery breathless -- even a gallery that spent years watching local superstar Michael Jordan.


The chants cascaded around the kid on the 18th green as he missed the last of two birdie chances that kept him from becoming the youngest major champion in 131 years.

Garcia nearly upstaged him, even in a town that Tiger seems to own.

"It looked like I was American," Garcia said.

Woods heard cheers -- and jeers.

"I knew the crowd was changing when I heard, 'Hope you don't slice it in the water' on No. 17," Woods said. "I didn't think that was fair."

Woods, a picture of purpose from the time he set foot on the first tee, took the lead with a 15-foot birdie on the second hole and built it to five strokes with another birdie on the 11th.

And then came a swift, shocking turn of events that unfolded in an area of 250 yards, the distance between the 12th and 13th greens.

Garcia ripped a shot right at the flag on the 219-yard 13th, skipping down the tee box like he fully expected it to go in, as though it were a 15-foot putt. The ball sailed over the flag and stopped 15 feet above the hole.

Back on the 12th, Woods made his first bogey of the day by three-putting from about 60 feet. He arrived on the 13th tee just in time to see Garcia throw down the gauntlet. Garcia hit a decisive putt that rammed into the back of the cup.

Then came the stare.

With cockiness and defiance, Garcia looked back at the tee toward Woods as if to say, "Take that."

Woods took a double dose of it even though he said he didn't see the stare or the tip of the hat.

"I saw him make the putt and I turned away. I knew what I had to do," Woods said.

Hitting a 6-iron over the green wasn't it.

The ball landed in rough so thick that when he chopped it out, it screamed down the slope into more rough. He chipped that one 6 feet above the hole and missed the putt to take double bogey.

Garcia dropped a crucial shot on the 15th when he drove into the trees, missed the green and failed to save par with a 10-foot putt.

But he stayed in the game with his eyes wide shut -- a heroic shot that would have made Ballesteros, his countryman and mentor, beam with pride.

His 3-wood off the 16th tee rolled through the fairway and up against one of the 4,161 trees across Medinah. The safe play -- the healthy play -- would have been a chip back to the fairway.

Not for Garcia.

His favorite slogan is "Suerte o Muerte," which translates literally to "luck or death." The loose definition is to go for broke with the reckless, fearless play that describes his game.

Garcia ripped at it with a 6-iron, closing his eyes and turning his head. Then, in a wonderful display of a teen-ager's enthusiasm, he sprinted up the fairway, leaping like a gymnast in a floor exercise and patting his heart as a thunderous cheer told the story. He was on the green, and he bagged an improbable par with a two-putt from 60 feet.

Woods's victory returned him to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but not in the style to which he's accustomed.

"I couldn't come in the clubhouse the way I wanted to," Woods said.

Jay Haas had a 70 and Stewart Cink a 73 to tie for third at 280. Mike Weir, who started the final round tied with Woods, shot an 80 and finished eight strokes back.

It wasn't as impressive as Augusta in 1997, but Woods is still on top of the world.

It was his fourth victory in seven tournaments since April 18, and it was his seventh finish in the top 10 in only 12 majors as a professional. He also won for the third time in Chicago, the city where Jordan, his good friend, has ruled in the '90s.

Ryder Cup drama also unfolded.

In the last tournament for American players to earn points, Bob Estes birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine and at one point held fourth place alone -- he needed a two-way tie for fifth to move into the top 10.

But Estes missed short par putts on the 16th and 17th and finished with a 69, tied for sixth with Colin Montgomerie and moved up only to 11th in the standings.

Ben Crenshaw will announce his two captain's picks Monday morning.

Garcia, meanwhile, secured a spot on Europe's team and will be the youngest player ever in the Ryder Cup. He may get another crack at Woods, in what could be the first of several showdowns in the years to come.