Golf: Woods wins after swing problem

Golf

Tiger Woods, in his first tournament since his spectacular triumph at the Masters, won the Byron Nelson Classic by two strokes in Irving, Texas on Sunday.

The 21-year-old struggled with his swing, but a two-under-par 68 was good enough to carry him to his fifth victory in 16 starts on the PGA Tour since he turned professional last August.

"At the Masters I was hitting the ball pretty good. Today I wasn't," said Woods, who finished at 17-under 263, equalling the tournament record low score.

Fellow American Lee Rinker, who led by two strokes after seven holes, shot 68 to finish second on 265, while Tom Watson (67), winner of eight major titles, tied for third with Dan Forsman (70) on 267.

Woods, 21, collected $324,000 (pounds 202,000) for his third PGA Tour win this year, moved to the top of the money list with $1,290,350 and jumped to the top of the American Ryder Cup rankings.

He also took his career earnings to $2,080,944, passing the $2m barrier quicker than anyone else.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the win was that it was achieved with a faulty swing, which is the sign of a great player.

"I hit some really good shots and some really bad shots," Woods said. "I had to rely on my mind and my short game to get me through and that's what happened. I got up and down every time."

Woods was so concerned about his swing after the third round that he summoned his coach, Butch Harmon, who jumped into his car for the four- hour drive from Houston.

Harmon arrived early on Sunday morning, and spent time with his star pupil on the range before the final round. The session did not work miracles, but it was enough to carry Woods to victory.

He started the final round with a two-stroke lead, and made his lone bogey at the par-four third, where he sliced his drive into water.

Rinker, playing two groups ahead, birdied three of the first seven holes to open a two-stroke lead, but he could not hold it.

With a bogey at the 15th, he handed the lead back to Woods, who had five holes left, and it was as good as over.

Woods tees up again on Thursday at the Colonial tournament in nearby Fort Worth, where he also is expected to meet with Fuzzy Zoeller.

At the Masters, Zoeller made comments about Woods that were perceived by many to be racially insulting.

Britain's Nick Faldo, who had hit three sub-70 rounds, ended with a disappointing 73 for a 276 total.

BYRON NELSON CLASSIC TOURNAMENT (Irving, Texas) Leading final scores (US unless stated): 263 T Woods 64 64 67 68; 265 L Rinker 65 63 69 68. 267 T Watson 65 66 69 67, D Forsman 67 64 66 70. 268 B Tway 69 65 68 66; A Magee 66 65 69 68; C Perry 65 67 66 70; P Stankowski 64 66 68 70; B Bryant 65 67 66 70; M Standly 66 63 68 71; J Furyk 63 67 67 71. 269 J Cook 68 68 66 67; C Parry (Aus) 66 66 69 68; P Mickelson 66 67 68 68; E Johnson 65 69 66 69; N Lancaster 70 66 64 69; P Blackmar 68 63 67 71; H Sutton 68 65 66 70. 270 T Kite 69 67 67 67; L Roberts 70 64 68 68; O Browne 74 64 63 69; D Hart 64 68 69 69, N Price (Zim) 69 65 67 69, D Edwards 70 67 63 70; D Berganio 68 63 66 73. Selected: 276 N Faldo (GB) 66 68 69 73. 278 David Frost (SA) 68 68 66 76. 281 Hideki Kase (Japan) 68 70 67 76.

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