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Sergio Garcia at the 1999 PGA Championship

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Just 23, and with the game of a veteran, Tiger Woods captured the 81st PGA Championship at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, and may have found his biggest rival as golf heads into the next century. Woods nearly squandered a five-stroke lead before salvaging an even-par 72 for a winning total of 11-under-par 277. His two-putt for par on the 72nd hole was one stroke better than 19-year-old Sergio Garcia of Spain. But, the real drama in the woods of Medinah evolved on the back nine of the final round. Garcia, who took the first-round lead, was the youngest player to compete in the PGA Championship since Gene Sarazen in 1921. Woods, who won the 1997 Masters title, was competing in his third PGA Championship. He became the fifth youngest PGA Champion and the youngest since Jack Nicklaus in 1963. Woods triumphed over the strongest field in the history of golf. A record 92 of the world's top 100 players, featuring 43 international players from 19 countries, competed for the Wanamaker Trophy. Garcia bogeyed the second hole after hitting his ball into the water, but later birdied the 13th hole from 18 feet and then looked back to the tee at Woods. Garcia nearly endangered himself and perhaps those in the gallery before hitting perhaps the greatest recovery shot in major championship golf. On the par-4, 452-yard 16th, Garcia pushed a 3-wood and the ball landed 189 yards from the green in the exposed roots behind a large tree. Garcia elected to hit the ball, not chip safely to the fairway. He opened the face of a 6-iron and as he swung, closed his eyes at impact. The ball rocketed into a high left-to-right trajectory, landing on the green some 60 feet from the hole. Garcia sprinted up the fairway and did a scissors kick leap to see the green. Once he settled down, he went on to two-putt for par. Woods bogeyed the 16th, trimming his lead to a stroke over Garcia. Woods then hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to the left-hand rough to face his championship moment of truth. Woods chipped from a poor lie to within eight feet of the hole, but rolled in the putt. Garcia missed his birdie putt on the 18th hole and later watched as Woods rolled a downhill 15-footer to within tap-in range to clinch the title. Woods and Garcia met and embraced on the edge of the green.

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