Mark O'Meara was a winner again for the first time in nearly six years, and Tiger Woods was there to greet him with a hug.
O'Meara, using his new "saw" putting grip, closed with a 3-under-par 69 yesterday for a one-stroke victory over Ireland's Paul McGinley in the Dubai Desert Classic.
"Chalk one up for the old boys," said the 47-year-old O'Meara, whose last official victory came at the 1998 British Open, just months after he won the Masters.
O'Meara finished at 17-under 271 and earned $333,330, a fraction of Woods's $3 million appearance fee.
Woods closed with a 4-under 68 on a hot, breezy day at the Emirates Golf Club, and finished five strokes behind in a tie for fifth. It was his fifth top-10 finish in five events this year. Woods gave his good friend and Florida neighbor O'Meara a big hug at the 18th hole and promised him a ride home on his private jet, which O'Meara calls "TWA -- Tiger Woods Airlines."
Ernie Els closed with a 7-under 65 and tied for third, along with England's David Howell.
O'Meara is the third player in his 40s to win on the PGA Tour or European Tour this year, joining Vijay Singh (40) at Pebble Beach and Miguel Angel Jimenez (40) at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand.
O'Meara calls his grip "the saw," with the top hand (left) assuming a normal position and the right pinching the shaft between the thumb and three fingers. The posture aligns the wrist with the forearm.
"I'm taking dibs on this," O'Meara said of his invention. "We're going to have to get copyrights. The putting grip has certainly rejuvenated my career. I hit some wonderful putts, great speed on the putts."
PGA -- Craig Parry's 6-iron from 176 yards bounced twice and rolled into the hole for an eagle to beat Scott Verplank on the first playoff hole in the Ford Championship at Doral in Miami. Parry's eagle came on the Blue Monster's signature 18th hole -- the toughest on Tour this year. The hole surrendered just nine birdies in the final round and 31 in the tournament.
Parry and Verplank finished at 17-under 271. Retief Goosen (66) was one shot back in third, and Joe Durant was fourth. Phil Mickelson, who started the day two shots behind Parry, shot a 2-over 74 to match his worst round of the year and finish tied for 24th.
Ladies European -- England's Laura Davies won the rain-delayed Women's Australian Open in Sydney, finishing off a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory over Australia's Rachel Teske. Davies, who played six holes this morning, had a 5-under 283 total. Teske closed with a 74, and England's Trish Johnson shot a 70 to finish third at 3-over 291.
Champions -- Ed Fiori captured the MasterCard Classic in Huixquilucan, Mexico, for his first title, beating Australia's Graham Marsh with a par on the third hole of a playoff.