Golf: Woods crushes Memorial field

Tiger Woods surged to his third consecutive Memorial Tournament win yesterday, after a final-round birdie blitz gave the world No 1 a seven-shot victory at Dublin, Ohio.

Woods closed with a blistering six-under 66 for a 17-under 271 total on a cold, grey day at the Muirfield Village Golf Club that left Paul Azinger and Spaniard Sergio Garcia tied for a distant second.

Woods collected $US738,000 ($1.79 million) for his fifth win in his last six starts worldwide.

He became the first player to win a US Tour event three times in a row since Tom Watson strung together a trio of Byron Nelson Classic titles from 1978 to 1980.

The crucial moment of the final day came on the fifth hole.

Moments after Azinger, the third-round leader, knocked his three-wood second shot in the water in front of the green at the par-five fifth, Woods stuck a three-iron from 240 yards to within 6ft. He drained the eagle putt while Azinger two-putted from 12ft for bogey.

"When Paul hit the water, I thought I just need to get the ball on dry land around here," Woods said. "Luckily, I did that, and I got the three. It feels good to play good when I really needed to."

When Azinger, who won the Memorial in 1993, bogeyed the next hole, the 25-year-old Woods was three shots clear of the field.

A two-putt birdie on the par-five seventh hole, set up by a 270-yard, three-wood approach, lifted Woods to a four-stroke advantage and he was off to his 12th straight sub-par round at Muirfield Village.

Azinger birdied the opening hole to lead Woods by two shots, but birdied only one more hole while giving back four shots to post a final-round 74. Garcia registered an up-and-down 71 to tie Azinger at 10-under 278.

New Zealanders Grant Waite and Frank Nobilo finished well down the field. Waite shot a final-round four-over 76 for 287 and Nobilo's even-par round left him on 294.

* Australian golfer Karrie Webb won the US Women's Open by a massive eight strokes at Southern Pines, North Carolina, yesterday.

Webb started the day with a five-shot lead and stayed in front throughout the final round to capture women's golf's most prestigious title for the second consecutive year.

She carded a one-under-par 69, finishing in style with birdies at the final two holes. She ended at seven-under 273. South Korean Pak Se-ri shot 72 to claim second on 281.

Webb, aged 26, is the seventh player to successfully defend the Women's Open crown.

New Zealand's Lynette Brooky finished 26 shots behind Webb at 299 after a final-round six-over 76.

* Frenchman Thomas Levet came from four strokes off the lead going into the final round to clinch a dramatic four-man playoff for the British Masters title at Woburn, Milton Keynes, yesterday at the third extra hole.

Levet (69) had tied after four rounds on 14-under-par 274 with Swedes Mathias Gronberg (68), who ran him closest, and Robert Karlsson (72), and Britain's David Howell (73).

The Frenchman felt destined to win after finding a lucky Irish ball-marker and had an immediate chance in the playoff to claim his second European Tour title.

But he missed a five-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole, where Karlsson and Howell both dropped out with bogeys. At the third sudden-death hole, the par three 17th, he had an eight-foot birdie chance and made no mistake.

Gronberg had to settle for a share of second place with Karlsson and Howell.

* New Zealanders Barry Vivian and Simon Owen finished third and tied for fourth respectively in the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at Cheshire, England yesterday.

Vivian shot a par round of 72 at Carden Park to climb past Owen into third in the European Seniors Tour event.

Owen tied for fourth with American Jeff van Wagenen, with a four-round total of 285.

Vivian trailed Australian winner Ian Stanley by six shots with a four under-par tally of 284.

- AGENCIES

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