Posted at 10:38 a.m., Sunday, June 3, 2007
Early Nicklaus lessons pay off in PGA win for Choi
By Doug Ferguson
Choi ran off four straight birdies on the front nine to take the lead, then finished with three clutch par saves from the bunkers and gallery to close with a 7-under 65, giving him a one-shot victory over Ryan Moore at The Memorial.
Rain that pounded Muirfield Village in the morning set up a shootout among a half-dozen players, all of them with a good chance to win until they either ran out of time, ran out of birdies or took themselves out of the tournament with untimely blunders.
Choi could have been on that list.
After a two-putt birdie on the 15th to reach 17 under, he saved par from the bunker on the 16th with a 7-foot putt, chipped out of the gallery to 15 feet and made that for par on the 17th, then blasted out of the sand on the final hole to 5 feet and made that one.
Nicklaus, the tournament founder, stood behind the 18th green and waited with open arms when Choi finished at 17-under 271.
Moore ran off five straight birdies until he had to settle for par on the 18th for a 66.
Rod Pampling, who had a three-shot lead to start the final round, gave himself a chance with a 30-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole to get within one shot of Choi. But on the 17th, Pampling went long and into the gallery, stubbed a chip and was lucky to escape with bogey. He closed with a 72 and tied for third with Kenny Perry, who shot 63 despite finishing with three straight pars.
Adam Scott also left Muirfield Village with a bitter taste.
Despite a bogey on the par-5 11th that stalled his momentum, he birdied the 15th and 16th to get within one shot, but three-putted from the fringe on the 17th, badly missing a 6-footer for par.
That meant Scott and Pampling had to hole out from the 18th fairway to force a playoff, and neither had a chance. Choi watched with Nicklaus from behind the green and hardly looked worried.
It was the fifth victory of his career, and he earned $1.08 million.
Scott closed with back-to-back bogeys for a 70, putting him at 14-under 274 with Sean O'Hair (70), Stewart Cink (69) and Fredrik Jacobson (68).
Tiger Woods made progress in his final tournament before the U.S. Open. He finally holed his share of putts and closed with a 67 to tie for 15th, then headed for Oakmont for one final practice round.
"It was progressing all week, which was nice," Woods said.