If you asked any golf fan 18 months ago whether Tiger Woods would ever win a major again, they would have said no chance.
Now here we sit with one day left in the Masters Tournament and Woods can legitimately take home his fifth green jacket.
Woods shot just a 67 in the third round today, moving him just a few strokes behind Italian golfer Francesco Molinari, who’s at the top of the leader board.
There is some historical precedence that suggests that Woods could win, as he currently sits at 11 under par.
Tiger will tee of with the final group at 9:20 in search of his first major win in over a decade. Golf fans could not have asked for a more exciting final day of action.
Tiger Woods to start his year at Torrey Pines again
Tiger Woods is starting another year at Torrey Pines, this time with higher expectations.
Woods announced Wednesday that he will play in the Farmers Insurance Open next week. He has won the tournament seven times, and Torrey Pines is where he won the U.S. Open in 2008.
Woods tied for 23rd a year ago when no one — himself included — was sure what to expect. He was coming off a fourth back surgery, this one to fuse his lower spine. This will be his first PGA Tour event since he won the Tour Championship last September to cap off a comeback year.
Jon Rahm Beats Tiger Woods, Wins in Bahamas, Ends Year with 3 Titles
Jon Rahm broke into tears when he beat Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup, the most meaningful moment of his career.
Sunday wasn’t bad either, not with Woods handing him the trophy after Rahm turned a potential shootout into a runaway victory on the back nine in the Bahamas to end his year by winning the Hero World Challenge.
That makes two full years as a pro for the 24-year-old Spaniard, each with three victories worldwide.
“I hope I keep winning three times every year,” Rahm said. “Still wouldn’t get to what Tiger’s done in 20 years, but it would be pretty impressive.”
Starting the final round in a three-way tie with Tony Finau and Henrik Stenson, Rahm took the lead for good on the eighth hole and never trailed again. Finau was his final challenger until he took double bogey on the par-4 14th hole as Rahm made birdie for a five-shot lead, and the rest was easy.
Rahm closed with a 7-under 65 for a four-shot victory at Albany Golf Club.
“Even if I make a 4 there, I’m going to have to do something pretty dang special,” Finau said. “Hats off to Jon this week. He played incredible golf, and he deserved to win this week.”
Woods was never in the picture until it was time to hand out the trophy. Woods got off to another rough start, rallied on the back nine and had to settle for a 1-over 73 to finish 17th against the 18-man field. He finished 19 shots behind, the biggest gap this year from the winner over 72 holes.
“Overall, it was a long week, but one that I hope the players enjoyed,” Woods said in his role as tournament host.
Even so, there were Tiger prints all over this victory.
Rahm spoke of an interview he once saw from the British Open when Woods said that when he took the lead, his goal was to never go back to the field.
“That’s the same thing I thought today,” Rahm said. “As soon as I got in the lead, my mind was still forward. Keep doing birdies and just keep going on. I didn’t know what kind of a lead I had until I got to 16, and I was still rifling at the pin.”
He also recalled running into Woods before the Tour Championship at East Lake, which Woods won for his 80th career victory. Rahm grew up on poa annua greens, still isn’t entirely comfortable on Bermuda and asked Woods for advice.
“He kind of laughed and told me it’s all about feel,” Rahm said. “I was like, ‘OK, whatever, right.’ And today out there with the trophy, he was like, ‘That’s a pretty good performance for somebody who can’t put putt on Bermuda greens.’ I think I made one putt outside 10 feet. I didn’t miss a shot the last three days, it’s as simple as that. But I don’t think he believed me.”
Rahm has said all week the key to Albany were the five par 5s and two reachable par 4s. He made birdie on all of them Sunday.
Even with a runaway victory, there was a small measure of drama on the final hole.
Justin Rose, needing to finish in a three-way tie for second to return to No. 1 in the world, closed with a 65 and was in position to go back to the top of the ranking until Finau rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt for a 69 to finish alone in second.
Brooks Koepka, who did not play this week, remains No. 1. Rose has one more event left in two weeks at the Indonesia Masters.
Finau, meanwhile, cracked the top 10 for the first time in his career at No. 9.
Rahm took a two-shot lead to the back nine with a 4-hybrid to 12 feet on the par-5 ninth that set up a two-putt birdie, and he held his own until Finau’s double bogey. Rahm, making his first trip to the Bahamas for this event, figured out early that the key to scoring at Albany were the five par 5s and two reachable par 4s. He made birdie on all seven of those holes Sunday.
Stenson was only one shot behind when he made the turn, but the Swede made only one birdie on the back nine and finished alone if fourth. Patrick Cantlay was 12 shots better than Saturday, closing with a 64 to tie for fifth with defending champion Rickie Fowler.
Tiger Woods wins the tour championship.
The Latest on the Tour Championship (all times local):
Tiger Woods has a three-shot lead with three holes to play, and now the Tour Championship has a few other developments.
Justin Rose, four shots behind Woods as he stood on the ninth tee, has made four bogeys in eight holes and is tied for sixth. If he finishes that way, Woods will win the $10 million prize for the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship.
Dustin Johnson finished with a 67 and is in third place. That might be enough to return him to No. 1 in the world.
So far, it’s been a great day for Woods. Not so much for Rose.
Tiger Woods returned to golf last December at No. 1,199 in the world ranking.
Ten months later, he could go to as high as No. 13.
Woods dropped one shot after he made the turn, answered with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 13 and has a five-shot lead with five holes to play in the Tour Championship.
He is playing like he did a decade ago, and the outcome seems familiar with no one putting together much of a challenge at East Lake. Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler have posted the best rounds Sunday at 65.
Tiger Woods has a five-shot lead and is nine holes away from his first victory in more than five years.
His closest challenger is Justin Rose.
Of the final six players to tee off Sunday, Woods is the only one who was under par for the final round. And he started with a three-shot lead.
Rory McIlroy is in the final group with Woods and went the other direction. He hit a wild tee shot to the right into the tree and made double bogey on No. 7 after a penalty drop, and then hit another drive into the crowd on the right for bogey at No. 8.
Woods still had an outside shot at the FedEx Cup if he were to win, though he would need Rose to post a big number on the back nine.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was on the first tee at East Lake knowing exactly how big a day it might be for the PGA Tour.
And an awkward one for the tour.
Tiger Woods had a five-shot lead after six holes of the final round, and there is no other player that generates interest in the sport, especially after the back surgeries he has overcome. Crowds were huge. TV ratings were at 15-year highs.
Also at stake Sunday was the FedEx Cup, and Justin Rose was in the best shape to win. Rose would earn $10 million for what the tour considers its biggest prize. And there’s a chance no one will even notice.
Tiger Woods has gone from not knowing if he would ever play golf again to the verge of winning.
Woods started out with a three-shot lead Sunday in the Tour Championship, and it took only four holes for him to stretch the lead to five over Justin Rose. The gallery at East Lake was enormous in anticipation of Woods winning for the first time in more than five years.
It would be his 80th title on the PGA Tour and hold a special place as his first trophy after four back surgeries.
Woods opened with a birdie, while Rory McIlroy made bogey from the bunker on the fourth hole. Also trying to chase Woods was Rose, who was poised to win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize.
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