With dramatic win at the Memorial, is Tiger back?

783166.jpg

With dramatic win at the Memorial, is Tiger back?

From Comcast SportsNet
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) -- For those who thought Tiger Woods' run as the world's best golfer was over, the 747-sized roar that emanated from the 16th green at Muirfield Village likely shocked them to their senses. With one flick of his wrists, Woods reminded everyone of who he was and what he has done. Woods slid a 60-degree sand wedge under a ball hidden by tall grass behind the 16th green, popped the ball straight up into the air where it seemed to hang for an instant, and then watched as it rolled ever so slowly toward the cup before dropping in for a 50-foot birdie that tied him for the lead at the Memorial Tournament on Sunday. If that birdie served notice, then another on a sneaky-fast 10-foot downhill putt at the 18th assured him of his fifth victory at the tournament that Jack Nicklaus built. So, Tiger was asked, do you think you're back? "I won," he joked with a wide smile. "I'm sure by Tuesday I'll be retired and done, and then by the time I tee it up at the U.S. Open (at Olympic Club in San Francisco in 11 days) it might be something different. But I'll let you guys figure that out." Adding to the weight of the moment, the win tied Woods with Nicklaus -- the tournament founder and host who handed him the crystal trophy on the 18th green -- with 73 tour wins for second behind Sam Snead's record 82. Woods said it was "awfully special" to tie Nicklaus at the Golden Bear's own tournament. "Well, he had to rub it in my face right here, didn't he?" Nicklaus cracked. Then he added, "The last time he won here three years ago, he came here struggling a little bit and just absolutely blitzed it. And he did it again this week." Woods, four shots back and in fourth place at the start of the final round, closed with a 67 to match the best round of the day. He also saved his best for last, birdieing three of the final four holes under pressure conditions to make up a two-shot deficit as he teed off on the 15th hole. After a big drive, he hit a 3-iron second shot on the par-5 15th to 40 feet past the flag. He two-putted for birdie. At the 16th, he hit an 8-iron that rode the wind and bounced off the green and about 15 feet into deep grass. A little too soft a shot and he would be left with a treacherous, twisting putt for par. Catch it a little thin and the ball could easily run all the way through the green and into a pond. The sonic boom that erupted when the ball fell shook the whole course. The rest of the field, those who didn't already know anyway, were reminded that Woods still can summon the thunder. "Well, obviously, I knew something was going on up in front," said Rory Sabbatini, who held a one-shot lead until Woods' chip-in. Rickie Fowler, one of the game's most popular young players, was paired with Woods in a grouping that drew thousands of spectators. Fowler suffered through a miserable day that would end with him shooting a career-worst 84. But at the 16th, he knew he was witnessing some magic he'd seen before from Woods. "It came out perfect," Fowler said of the shot. "It landed right on the crown of that ridge there -- and the rest is history." Nicklaus called it a shot for the ages. "I've seen a lot of shots in golf," he said during the presentation ceremony. "I don't think I've ever seen a better one." Woods sounded as if even he didn't expect it to fall. "The shot was obviously difficult, but it wouldn't have been so bad if I had a good lie," Woods said. "The lie was just a little marginal where it brought the water into play. That's the reason I took such a big cut at it. I went for it, I pulled it off and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise." Still, he was only tied. While he was parring the 17th hole, Sabbatini bogeyed the 16th. Woods striped a 3 wood off the tee at the testy, uphill, par-4 closing hole. Then he carved an iron to the back of the green and watched it follow the contour of the green back to almost pin high. He slid the ball in on the high side for a 9-under 279. Andres Romero also had a 67 to pull into a tie with Sabbatini (72) for second, two shots back. Daniel Summerhays shot a 69 and was tied for fourth at 283 with 54-hole leader Spencer Levin. Levin, just as he had in losing a six-stroke lead heading into the final round at Phoenix, closed with a disappointing 75. Woods hadn't won a full-field event since 2009 before taking the Arnold Palmer Invitational in late March. He had missed a cut and finished tied for 40th in his only two tournaments after that, including the Masters. The whispers about his professional demise were growing louder. But then came the shot at 16, with Woods orchestrating the cheers with several of his trademark fist pumps. After he had accepted the trophy from Nicklaus and the 1.1 million that went with it, and after he had moved to No. 4 in the world rankings, Woods was asked if at 36 he still has enough to play at the same level of excellence from his earlier days. "Uh-huh," he said. What he had just done did all the speaking for him.

Quick Links

Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

Wizards players complain about referees after loss to Utah Jazz: 'No-name guys are getting calls'

The Wizards' loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday featured a significant difference in free throw attempts between the teams, so drastic that several Wizards players spoke at length about what they felt was a major slight by the officiating crew.

At halftime, the Wizards had just one free throw attempt compared to 18 for the Jazz. By the end of the game, Utah held a 32-13 advantage and that was even after some makeup calls at the end, according to Wizards point guard John Wall.

"We were being physical and we were competing. We attacked the basket just as much as them. You look at some of the calls they got and some of the calls we should have got," he said. "Near the end of the game refs always try to make up for what they missed. But you can't make up for [18] to one free throws in the first half."

Wall thought the refs did not call a fair game and seemed almost insulted by the late effort to give him and his teammates free throws.

"Just ask the refs. They know. They didn't make the calls," he said. "You keep attacking the basket and no-name guys are getting calls on the other end on little contact. Then you drive to the basket and get contact the whole game and they try to make up for those calls in the last two or three minutes of the game... Don't try to give me the calls when there is 30, 45 seconds or a minute left to make me feel good. That's not going to change the outcome or how aggressive I want to be the whole game."

The Wizards were called for 27 fouls, while the Jazz were tagged for 19. Combined with an already tough defense and Utah was too much for the Wizards in a 102-92 loss. That snapped a 23-game streak for the Wizards of scoring at least 100 points.

Guard Bradley Beal pointed out the difference in free throws at halftime as a "little weird." Forward Markieff Morris went further.

"All we can ask for them is to do their job to the best of their capabilities, like they ask of us every night," he said of referees Bill Spooner, Eric Dalen and Eric Lewis. "We had a bad game, they had a bad game. We came out with the loss and that's the consequences in those games."

For the Wizards, they feel like this has been a common theme this season. Washington is 26th out of 30 NBA teams in free throw attempts (21.3) per game. Opponents average 24.2 free throws per game, ninth-most in the league.

"We haven't been getting calls all year," Beal said.

"That's typically been happening all year. It's unfortunate," Morris added.

"It didn't go our way and that's nothing new. We've dealt with this before," Wall said. "I'm used to it. We're used to it by now. We don't get too many calls. It's funny. They always say the same thing. All we can do is try to put it aside and try to compete. But it's tough when you have an outrageously high number, [18] to one and it ended up being 32 to 13."

Morris fouled out of the game after picking up two in less than a minute. His final foul was a charging call. Morris then tossed the basketball in the referee's direction and was called for two technical fouls. He fouled out, then got ejected, all on the same play.

"Refs and their feelings. It's like that all the time. It is what it is," he said.

Wall also let his emotions get the best of him. He was issued a technical foul with :22 seconds left in the first half. That's his 11th of the season.

"It gets frustrating, but I've gotta do a better job of holding my emotions in check," he said.

If Wall gets to 16 he will be suspended one game, per NBA rules.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

Quick Links

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to tough Utah Jazz behind Gordon Hayward's 30 points

The good times are no longer rolling for the Wizards now that the All-Star break is over. They lost their second in a row Sunday – the first time they’ve lost consecutive games since Jan. 3 – 102-92 to the Utah Jazz at Verizon Center in front of 19,648.

John Wall (23 points, 11 assists) and Bradley Beal (22 points) led Washington but it was dominated on both ends of the floor by one of the league’s elite defensive teams. The Wizards were held to less than 100 points for the first time in 24 games after being embarrassed Friday in a 120-112 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers.

They were bruised early and often by Utah (37-22), which held them to just 15 points in the second quarter as they trailed 49-39 at the half and never got the deficit to less than 10 until a jumper from Beal in the final four minutes.

Gordon Hayward (30 points, eight rebounds) led all scorers for the Jazz, followed by George Hill (21 points, six assists), Rudy Gobert (15 points, 20 rebounds), Rodney Hood (11 points) and Derrick Favors (10 points, seven rebounds).

A pair of foul shots by Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points), playing for the second time since being acquired in a trade, pulled the Wizards to 95-89 but Hayward responded with a pair of three-pointers to slam the door shut.

[RELATED: Jazz coach: Wall and Beal are NBA's best backcourt]

--Beal didn’t score in the first half, missing his only two shots as he played 11 minutes as he was limited by three fouls. His pull-up jump shot at 8:54 of the third was his first field goal but the Wizards still were down 56-43.

--Morris fouled out with 7:31 because of a charge. He was then ejected as he received his seventh and eighth technical of the season. Wall was called for his 10th technical in the first half. Hill didn’t get called for his first foul until 5:17 was left in the game, which was part of Wall’s frustration. The Jazz were 23 of 32 from the foul line. The Wizards were 10 of 13.

--Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds) only played seven minutes against Philadelphia because of back spasms. He returned to play a season-high 16 minutes and was part of a late run in the third quarter that trimmed the 24-point deficit to 73-60 to enter the fourth.

--Gobert and Favors dominated inside. They combined for seven blocks and converted lob after lob at the rim. Marcin Gortat (six points, eight rebounds) was pulled at 6:48 of the third quarter. Defensively they snuffed out the Wizards’ pick-and-roll and broke up lobs at the rim to Morris on two occasions. They also combined to grabbed 27 total rebounds and contributed to the overall one-sidedness,  51-27.

--Jason Smith, who was the best player off the bench for Washington in the loss to Philadelphia, didn’t make an appearance for the first time since Dec. 18. He’s lost his time to Mahinmi and Bogdanovic.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall has crossover and alley-oop back-to-back]