Tiger Woods always hated coming in second but it wasn’t all that bad at this year’s PGA Championship where he finished behind Brooks Koepka


ST. LOUIS — Even with out the victory, Tiger Woods delivered the victory fist pump on the 72nd gap. It was a tough proper too, a punch filled with the form of imply intentions thrown by an outdated heavyweight from St. Louis by the title of Sonny Liston. Tiger Woods lastly mentioned the hell with it Sunday, the hell with a whole profession spent hating on second place.

Woods was going to have a good time a loss for as soon as in his wonderful sporting life. He made that 19-foot birdie putt that he knew in his coronary heart would not topple Brooks Koepka, after which Tiger responded at Bellerive as if he had simply gained his fifth inexperienced jacket at Augusta Nationwide.

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Woods went loopy. The gang went loopy.

“I may hear it,” a smiling Koepka mentioned as he approached the ready Woods close to the PGA Championship scoring room.

Heck, they might hear it a dozen zip codes away in any course. The 14-time main winner gave the three-time main winner a wholesome hug, and shortly sufficient, Woods left the premises feeling happier about dropping than he has ever felt in his life.

At a surgically altered and emotionally scarred 42 years of age, three weeks after almost profitable The Open at Carnoustie, Woods shot a 64, his finest rating ever within the ultimate spherical of a significant. His 130 over the closing 36 holes solely set a PGA Championship document. He completed at 14-under, two strokes behind Koepka, and the disgrace of it’s he may’ve misplaced the match on his first two holes Thursday, when he opened with bogey and double-bogey earlier than ducking into a transportable bathroom and exchanging his sweat-soaked shirt for what seemed to be a superhero’s cape.

On some ranges, this has been Tiger’s most outstanding season but. He hasn’t added to his 79 tour victories, however who cares? He was a hopelessly damaged man and athlete a little bit greater than a yr in the past. After a decadelong majors drought, he almost gained The Open and the PGA again to again. Woods did not simply produce heart-stopping drama for tens of millions of followers praying for his comeback to take us all to an unimaginable place.

He may’ve simply produced essentially the most dramatic non-championship sports activities season because the 2007 New England Patriots misplaced their bid for perfection in Tremendous Bowl XLII.

“Oh God,” Woods mentioned Sunday night, “I did not even know if I used to be going to play golf once more.”

Tiger Woods made a run to recollect on Sunday on the PGA however simply fell quick. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports activities

Woods was ranked 1,199th on this planet in December for a motive. He was requested what he would’ve mentioned or thought within the early winter if somebody informed him he would have excellent Sunday probabilities this season in two majors.

Tiger began rattling on about his schedule and never understanding what number of tournaments he would enter earlier than he caught himself and confronted the sobering magnitude of the query.

“And so firstly of the yr,” Woods lastly mentioned, “when you would say, yeah, I’d have a legit probability to win the final two main championships, I — with what swing? I did not have a swing on the time. I had no velocity. I did not have a golf swing. I did not have — my quick recreation wasn’t fairly there but. My placing was OK. However God, I hadn’t performed in two years. So it has been a hell of a course of, for certain.”

Woods trusted the method, in fact, whilst he wanted to towel off between photographs Sunday greater than his buddy, Rafa Nadal, towels off between factors. Wearing his killer purple, Woods opened with an awesome bunker shot and near-birdie on the first, a birdie on the second and a near-hole-in-one-turned-birdie on the third. Tiger missed all seven fairways on the entrance 9 and it did not a lot matter. He was making his bid with essentially the most deadly weapon in his bag — his indomitable will to win.



Tiger Woods hits a birdie putt on the ninth gap to the delight of the gang within the ultimate spherical of the PGA Championship.

Off a downhill lie close to a cart path, Woods whistled a Three-wood via a tree en path to a birdie on the par-5 eighth. Then — after one other shirt change in one other moveable bathroom — he executed his shot of the match on his method on the par-Four ninth, salvaging his wide-left tee ball with a throwback nine-iron from the tree line that netted him one other birdie and a rating of 11-under. Woods screamed a profanity for punctuation, and why not? He trailed Koepka by one.

Tiger’s Bridgestone ball stopped on the lip of the cup on the 11th, refusing to fall like his Nike ball fell on the 16th at Augusta in 2005, leaving him doubled over, his arms on his knees. However with the Goodyear blimp hovering above him, Woods had his magical moments on the again facet, birdieing Nos. 12 and 13 as crowds in different corners of Bellerive — watching the leaderboards and video boards — erupted into chants of, “Let’s go Tiger.” Woods adopted a harmful bogey on the 14th, the place he missed the green with an iron, by almost holing out his method on the 15th. His tap-in birdie once more put him one stroke off the lead.

However as Koepka performed within the ultimate pairing with Adam Scott, Koepka stored flexing these muscle groups of his and confirmed why he is now the most effective majors participant on the planet. On the par-5 17th, earlier than Woods may handle an solely up-and-down par out of a bunker, the identical crowd that had chanted “Let’s go Tiger” immediately groaned after they noticed Koepka’s rating had modified to 16-under on the close by board. At 13-under, Woods was successfully performed. All he had left was that birdie on 18 — and an opportunity to thank a crowd so massive and passionate and constructive all week that it moved Tiger in a manner that few crowds ever have.

“The vitality was unbelievable,” Woods mentioned.

Tiger turned the PGA Championship right into a Sport 7 at Busch Stadium.

“Sixty-four,” mentioned the contender paired with him, Gary Woodland. “And it appeared fairly straightforward to be sincere with you.. … I feel he may’ve shot quite a bit [better] than he did.”

Earlier than he returns to the Masters as one of many favorites — the early odds have him 12-1, behind solely Jordan Spieth at 10-1 — Woods has to regain belief in his driver. That was the clear distinction between profitable and dropping right here. Koepka may let it rip, with full confidence, whereas Woods was attempting to keep away from the large stick just like the plague.

“It is powerful to beat when the man hits it 340 down the center,” Woods mentioned.

The extra Tiger raved about Koepka’s energy recreation, the extra it seemed like he was raving a few younger Tiger. However this wasn’t a day for regrets — or for wishing for a return to the great ol’ days of dominance, when Woods’ opponents folded on command.

This was a day to do not forget that Woods had spinal fusion surgical procedure 16 months in the past, the ache quickly compelling him to overmedicate and to get himself arrested, whereas in a harmful stupor, for DUI. This was a day to do not forget that Tiger did not even know if he’d ever compete once more as not too long ago as final fall, and that he’d mentioned within the spring he was recovering from “some actually darkish, darkish instances.”

He’d been bedridden, unable to exit to dinner, unable to play along with his children. He known as himself a “strolling miracle” even earlier than he awoke the echoes and thrilled the followers at Carnoustie and Bellerive.

“I am in uncharted territory,” Woods mentioned, “as a result of nobody’s ever had a fused backbone hitting it like I am hitting it. So I needed to form of determine this out by myself, and it has been actually onerous. It is quite a bit tougher than individuals suppose.”

Woods has 5 top-10s and 7 top-12s in 14 begins this yr. He simply posted his finest dropping rating, 14-under, in a significant. He may very simply have 16 main titles proper now — and that is OK. In the long run, Tiger Woods did not really want any extra trophies.

One of many best athletes in fashionable American historical past gained Sunday simply by exhibiting up. For the primary time, the person who hates second place positively basked in it, then waited to provide the champion a hug. Sure, it was a reasonably rattling particular factor to see.


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