Thursday, November 23, 2000
POIPU, Kauai -- With Tiger Woods, all things are possible.
Woods makes astonishing eagle
on the final hole and wins Slam
with stupefying eagle
on playoff hole
By Bill Kwon
Even the impossible.
Just when you think there's nothing more he can do to surprise you, he does it again.
In one of the most dramatic finishes in PGA Grand Slam of Golf history, Woods eagled the par-5 18th hole twice -- the second time in a sudden-death playoff -- to become the first to win the $1 million event three consecutive years.
Trailing Vijay Singh by one stroke going into the final hole, Woods sank an eight-foot eagle putt to tie the Masters champion. Singh had birdied the hole to finish with a 36-hole total of 139.
It was deja vu all over again at the 550-yard 18th, as Woods eagled it again, this time from 10 feet but on the same line.
"I've never had a finish like this before," said Woods, who culminated a remarkable year with his 11th tournament victory. "I've had back-to-back eagles before, playing weekends with buddies. But not in a tournament when everything's on the line like that."
The victory was worth $400,000, with Singh getting $250,000 for finishing second. Tom Lehman was third at 143, good for $200,000, and Paul Azinger ended with 148 and $150,000.
But it's not about money with Woods, who earned a record $9.18 million on the PGA Tour this year. It's about winning.
When he has to, he reaches down deep to get into what golfers like to call a "zone." Tiger has been in a zone often enough to get some idea of what it's like.
"It's hard to describe," Woods said. "Everything's heightened. Your senses are heightened, your feel, your awareness of the situation."
The two eagles aside, a five-foot putt to save par at the par-3 17th set the stage for Woods to get into the zone.
Singh made his par and Woods needed his to stay one stroke back.
"The putt I made at 17 gave me a chance," Woods said. "I was able to hang in there. I gave myself a chance at 18 to force a playoff. I was able to hit two of the most identical shots in there. The same putt, same line."
Despite its length, the 18th at the Poipu Bay Resort Golf Course is an easy birdie hole because it's downwind. Woods knew Singh would birdie it, so it was eagle or nothing to tie.
And Woods rose to the challenge, hitting a 6-iron from 231 yards out to eight feet above the pin.
Singh, who had trouble with his driver all day, missing six of seven fairways on the front nine, came out of the trees at 18 just in front of the green and pitched 18 feet past the hole. But he sank his birdie putt, so Woods needed an eagle to tie, which he did.
In the next go-around at 18, Woods stuck a 7-iron from 208 yards out.
Same putt, same line, said Woods, who then dropped his eagle putt after Singh missed his 15-foot eagle attempt.
Lehman contended until he double-bogeyed 13 when he bladed his approach shot into the water.
"I had a really bad lie in the fairway. My ball was sitting in a hole," said Lehman, who shot a 70 yesterday.
Meanwhile, Azinger couldn't buy a putt all day.
"It was my worst two putting rounds, probably, all year," said Azinger, who could blame his 4-over finish to double-bogey 7s at the 14th hole both days.
But with Woods and Singh only a stroke apart over the final eight holes, it was like match play, the format the PGA of America had used the past two years before returning to stroke play again.
"It was kind of a match-play situation when Tom put his ball in the water," Woods said. "After that it was just Vijay and myself."
Woods won the first of his three consecutive PGA Grand Slam titles in 1998, beating Singh, 2-up, in match play.
In 1999, Woods defeated Davis Love III, 3 and 2. Now, it's back to stroke play and Woods is still winning.
If you had wondered what Woods could do for an encore, how's about back-to-back dramatic eagles when everything's on the line?
Greg Norman in 1994 and Ben Crenshaw, the following year, eagled the final hole to win PGA Grand Slam titles. But Woods pulled his out with a rare "double eagle."