Though Tiger Woods drew gasps from the overflow crowds with some 320-yard-plus drives, it was the three straight birdies on par-3s Sunday that really lifted him to victory in the Western Open in Lemont, Ill.
It was his fourth title of the year and sixth in 21 events since turning pro last August.
After hitting a tee shot within a foot on the last of Cog Hill Dubsdread’s par-3s, the 165-yard 14th, Woods seemed almost embarrassed. The 21-year-old reacted to the fans’ roars by smiling sheepishly and shrugging. Woods then tapped in for his third 2 to take the lead for good at 12-under.
Woods finished with a 13-under 275, three strokes ahead of Frank Nobilo and four better than Justin Leonard, Steve Lowery and Jeff Sluman. Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot a 70 to finish at 1-under-par 287 and earned $10,320.
As Woods walked to the 18th green after putting his second shot safely on, the gallery burst through the ropes and followed him up the fairway, a scene common at the British Open but very rare in the United States.
The $360,000 winner’s share gave Woods $1,761,033 in earnings this season. Only a huge slump will keep him from becoming the first golfer ever to earn $2 million in a season. As it is, he’s less than $20,000 behind the earnings record Tom Lehman set last year.
Woods is the second-youngest person to reach six victories. Horton Smith, who played in the 1920s, had seven before he turned 21. And four wins in 13 starts this year puts Woods in the company of some all-time greats. Jack Nicklaus won seven of 18 in 1973 and Jimmy Demaret six of 12 in 1940. Ben Hogan had the best year ever, winning five of six events in 1953, including the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open.
Jay Sigel had a 5-under-par 66 to win the $1 million Kroger Senior Classic in Mason, Ohio, with a tournament-record 18-under 195 total.
Sigel, a former insurance executive and two-time U.S. Amateur champion, recorded a birdie on the par-4 15th to go 18-under, one shot better than Mike Hill’s total for 54 holes in 1995.
Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship
Shooting a final-round 70, former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden finished with a 9-under-par 207 total to win his fourth Isuzu Celebrity Golf Championship at the Edgewood Tahoe course in Stateline, Nev. The score matched his tournament record from 1993.
The top money-winner in the tournament’s eight-year history, Rhoden earned the top prize of $100,000 with the three-stroke victory over former NFL star John Brodie and 14-year NHL veteran Dan Quinn. Brodie and Quinn both shot 70s Sunday and finished at 210.
Colin Montgomerie, tuning up for the British Open in two weeks, shot a course-record 9-under-par 62 for a seven-stroke victory in retaining his Irish Open title in Dublin.
Montgomerie was three strokes behind Lee Westwood, the leader the first three rounds, entering the final day. But the Scotsman produced an eagle and eight birdies to finish at 15-under 269.
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