88th PGA Championship
Woods overwhelmed his competition with much the same bravado that he exhibited in the early portion of his career, registering a workmanlike 4-under-par 68, for a five-stroke victory, and leaving only Nicklaus and his 18 titles in his path.
He opened with a 10-foot birdie to take the lead from playing partner Luke Donald and never looked back, while cruising on the longest course in major Championship history. The No. 3 Course was stretched to 7,561 yards, or 35 yards longer than the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Just a month after marching to victory in the British Open, finishing 18-under-par while using a 2-iron as his primary weapon on rock-hard fairways, Woods negotiated Medinah’s lush doglegged fairways by choosing his 5-wood as his club du jour and finishing things off with a sizzling putter.
He also is the first player in history to win at least two majors in two consecutive years.
Woods built a four-shot lead after nine holes and had things in cruise control, to finish at 18-under par 270. Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion, elevated his own game at a course that he said reminded him of his Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. But, his closing 69 was not enough to challenge.
Donald, bidding to become the first European-born PGA Champion since Denny Shute in 1930, slumped to a 74, and finished tied for third at 276 with Australia’s Adam Scott, who had a 67, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who posted a 70.
In addition to his opening birdie, Woods knocked home two other “bombs,” 40-foot birdie putts on the sixth and eighth holes.
Woods continued a remarkable streak in major Championships, moving to 12-0 when either leading or sharing the 54-hole lead.
So dominant was this performance that Woods made only three bogeys the entire week, including a harmless one on the par-3 17th hole over Lake Kadijah, when he was playing it safe. All that cost him was the scoring record in relation to par. He settled for 18 under, the same score he posted at Valhalla in 2000.
It was the fifth major that Woods won by at least five shots. He now has won his 12 majors by a combined 56 shots, while Nicklaus won his 18 majors by 44 shots.