Tiger issues US Open warning with Memorial win
Charges from four behind in fluctuating conditions on final day
Tiger Woods' remarkable two-shot victory at the Memorial tournament on Sunday will have sent a few shivers down the spines of his rivals with the year's second major, the US Open, just two weeks away.
Though no longer the dominant player he was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Woods was excited to end a week of pin-point ball-striking at Muirfield Village, and bury memories of the worst three-tournament run of his professional career.
The 14-times Major champion had tied for 40th at the Masters, missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship and finished joint 40th at the Players Championship in his three previous PGA Tour starts.
Though Woods had triumphed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in late March, his week-to-week form on the US circuit had become highly unpredictable while he continued to fine-tune the fourth swing change of his career.
That all changed, however, in fluctuating weather conditions at Muirfield Village where he strung together rounds of 70, 69, 73 and 67 on a tough layout demanding precision off the tee and into the green, charging from four behind on the final day.
"I'm excited because of the way I hit the golf ball this week," Woods told reporters after clinching his 73rd PGA Tour victory with three birdies in the last four holes.
"I hit the ball really well. At Olympic we're all going to have to hit the ball great there," he added, referring to the June 14-17 US Open to be played at San Francisco's Olympic Club.
"You can look at the history of guys who were in contention or who ended up winning there, all were wonderful drivers of the golf ball and good, solid iron players. That's what it's going to take there at Olympic, more so than most U.S. Open sites."
American Rickie Fowler, Woods' playing partner in the final round at Muirfield Village, was hugely impressed by the former world number one's form on Sunday.
"The times where he's in the moment and in the heat of contention is where he really shines," said Fowler. "He looked very comfortable and hit a lot of good shots.
"I was just trying to stay out of the way kind of on that back nine. He was very in control of his game today. He was hitting his (yardage) numbers. There weren't very many shots that were very far off."
A three-time US Open champion, Woods has not won a Major title since his astonishing playoff victory in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines where he triumphed despite a double stress fracture in his left leg.
Ever since his private life imploded at the end of 2009, he has been a shadow of his former self out on the course but Sunday's victory offered the first real sign that he may have regained full control of his swing.
"The only shot I tugged, double crossed, was the second shot on 10," Woods said, referring to his bogey at the par-four 10th where he dumped his approach into a greenside bunker.
"Other than that, every shot was exactly the shape, the trajectory, the distance control. I had it all today, shape off tees, whatever club I wanted to hit, I could hit.
"That was fun to have it when I needed it."