Two holes, two towering shots, two clutch birdies.
Just like that, Tiger Woods broke out of a four-way tie and won the Memorial yesterday with a 7-under 65 to cap off a high-charged comeback. And just as suddenly, he silenced the skeptics who wondered if he was ready to defend his title in the U.S. Open in 2 weeks at Bethpage Black.
"I knew I could do this," Woods said after birdies on the final two holes gave him a one-shot victory. "I was close to winning, but the game wasn't quite there when I really needed it on Sunday. I rectified that."
First came a 9-iron at No. 17 that Woods launched as high as he could, allowing the ball to land softly on the top shelf of a rock-hard green for a 9-foot birdie putt. More brilliance followed on the 18th, when Woods hit a 7-iron from 183 yards that stopped a foot from the hole, wrapping up his fourth title at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
Jim Furyk, part of the four-way tie on the back nine, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole that gave him a 69 and allowed him to finish alone in second. Woods finished at 12-under 276 and won for the 67th time in his career.
In other tournaments:
* At Springfield, Ill., In-Kyung Kim made birdies on two of her final three holes to capture the State Farm Classic by a stroke over Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak. Kim fired a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 271, giving the South Korean her second Tour victory.
* At Lakeway, Texas, German Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 67 and cruised to a six-shot victory over Mark O'Meara in the Triton Financial Classic.
* At Newport, Wales, Jeppe Huldahl, of Denmark, shot a 4-under 67 to win the Wales Open by one stroke for his first European Tour title.
* At Mitchellville, Md., Mathias Gronberg, of Sweden, earned a six-stroke win at the Melwood Prince George's County Open, finishing with a 19-under 269. *