…Federer crushes De Minaur to claim record 10th Basel title***
Tiger Woods’ peers have learned over the years never to be surprised at anything he accomplishes, and are braced for a further onslaught from the greatest player of their era, and perhaps any era.
After months of mediocrity following his 15th major title at the Masters in April, Woods emerged from metaphorical hibernation to match Sam Snead’s record 82 wins on the PGA Tour on Monday.
His three-stroke victory at the Zozo Championship, in his first start after knee surgery two months ago, seemingly came out of nowhere, proving once again that quality never goes out of style.
At 43, Woods does not hit the ball as far as many of his current rivals, but has found a way to win without overpowering a course in the manner of his prime.
“It never ceases to amaze really,” 2013 Masters champion and former world number one Adam Scott told Reuters, noting the roller coaster that Woods has been on this year.
“When he wins the Masters you’re like ‘he’s going to break Jack (Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors), that’s a guarantee’.
“And then by August you’re not sure if he’s ever going to play again and now after that break of two months he comes back and wins here off an extended break.”
“If he’s going to tee it up you can never count him out. He’s not consistently dominating like we once was, like we all got used to but he has this incredible talent and gift of getting the golf ball in the hole.
“His form is going to come and go but that gift is not going away.”
Other major champions were similarly impressed.
Rory McIlroy, who at age 30 has 17 PGA Tour victories, duly noted that he would have to win six times yearly for the next decade to approach 82 wins.
And this year’s British Open champion Shane Lowry sounded more like a fan than a man who won a major championship three months ago.
“He’s my golfing idol and sporting idol,” said Irishman Lowry. “He’s the best that’s ever lived. It doesn’t surprise me whatever he does.”
This year’s U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland played the final two rounds with Woods, and saw up close what the man is still capable of.
“The ball-striking exhibition I’ve seen the last two days is a joke, so I don’t see him stopping any time soon,” Woodland said. “Eighty-two’s pretty special. I think there’s a lot more in store.”
In the meantime, Roger Federer clinched a record-extending 10th Swiss Indoors championship title in his hometown of Basel with a crushing 6-2 6-2 victory over Australia’s Alex de Minaur on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Swiss has now won 103 singles titles in his career.
The record win in Basel — where he once acted as a ball boy — was the second time he had won a tournament 10 times.
He had first achieved the feat in Halle in June.
Federer converted four of 10 break points and did not drop serve to wrap up the match in 68 minutes for his fourth title of the year.
He had achieved title wins in Dubai, Miami and Halle.
“It was fast but very nice. I think I played a great match,” an emotional Federer said after lifting the trophy.
“I thought Alex played a great tournament as well, and I think we both can be very happy. But what a moment for me to win my 10th here in my hometown of Basel.”
Federer and De Minaur traded blows with long baseline exchanges early in the match, including an absorbing 39-shot rally when Federer led 2-1.
The Swiss then stepped up a gear to break his opponent twice and take the opening set.
Federer was ruthless on his serve and retained his momentum and intensity in the second set.
He moved into a 3-0 lead after winning five games in a row, before De Minaur held.
“It was a tough opener… the first five games, we had some great rallies,” Federer added. “I never looked back.
“I was great on the offence, made very few unforced errors and came up with the big shots and served well when I had to.”
De Minaur’s rare success only delayed the inevitable as Federer set up match point and forced the 20-year-old to fire a forehand wide.
The crowd never missed the moment as they rose to their feet to salute the 20-times Grand Slam champion.