With consecutive birdies down the stretch during the final round last year on the two most difficult holes Muirfield Village Golf Club has to offer, Tiger Woods authored one of the Memorial Tournament's most dramatic finishes.

With consecutive birdies down the stretch during the final round last year on the two most difficult holes Muirfield Village Golf Club has to offer, Tiger Woods authored one of the Memorial Tournament's most dramatic finishes.

It's right there with Paul Azinger holing out from a greenside bunker at No. 18 to steal the crystal trophy from the late Payne Stewart in 1993, or Roger Maltbie ricocheting his ball off a gallery stake at No. 17 to remain in a playoff he'd eventually win during the inaugural event in '76.

"The shot Tiger hit at (No.) 17 last year, that's one of the best golf shots I've ever seen in the clutch," said Zach Elkins, a Dublin Coffman High School junior of Woods' approach to within nine feet at the 478-yard hole, which is the longest par-4 on the course.

Wood, wearing his customary red Nike shirt on Sunday, was the fourth contender to arrive at the 17th hole at 10-under-par, and he calmly dropped the birdie putt to retake a lead he would not relinquish. Davis Love III bogeyed there a short time later while Jonathan Byrd and former Memorial champion Jim Furyk both settled for pars.

Woods then stopped his second shot at the par-4, 444-yard 18th no more than 12 inches to the right off the pin, tapping in for a final-round 65 to finish at 12-under 276 and post a one shot victory over Furyk (277). Byrd (280) shared third place with Mark Wilson as Love (282) tumbled all the way to a tie for fifth with Matt Kuchar and Matt Bettencourt after Love triple-bogeyed on No. 18.

Woods and his caddie, Steve Williams, twice exchanged high-fives after Woods' approach to the 18th green, but Woods told reporters afterward that he wasn't sure where his ball landed.

"I was surprised it held," said Woods, who became the Memorial's only four-time champion. "I was so into it I thought I had a 4-footer downhill. Stevie said, 'Thank God. That's two less gray hairs.'"

Woods' 65 tied the tournament's lowest fourth-round score by a winner, first set by Furyk en route to his victory in 2002. Champion K.J. Choi also shot a 65 on Sunday in 2007. Woods had won consecutive Memorials from 1999-2001, and Kenny Perry equaled that with his third title in '08.

"Tiger Woods is always Tiger Woods," Furyk said. "He can't be 100 percent every week, but I'm sure he answered a lot of questions today."

That he did.

Woods, who previously missed only two Memorials since turning pro during the summer of 1996 and has seven top-four finishes in 11 appearances, hit all 14 greens in regulation during last year's final round. That marked the first time he had done that in six years. He had only 25 putts, too. And the 49 fairways he hit (out of 56) during the tournament matched a career high.

"He played his best when he needed to," tournament director Dan Sullivan said. "That's what Tiger does."

Still, Woods was five strokes out of first place after last year's opening round as Luke Donald fashioned an 8-under 64, setting a tournament record in the process by needing only 20 putts.

Woods then nearly fell out of contention with a second-round 74 as Furyk and Byrd shared the lead at 7-under 137. However, 14 players remained within two shots of the lead and Woods lurked only six back.

Woods rebounded with a 68 on Saturday to get to 5-under 211 as Wilson and Bettencourt shared the third-round lead at 207, and Woods erased that four-stroke deficit by the time he played seven holes on Sunday.

Woods temporarily lost his lead with a bogey at the par-3 16th, but that only made for even more compelling theatre as he walked to the tee at No. 17, which has been rated the second toughest hole at Muirfield Village the past few years.

Historically, No. 18 is the most difficult and it played that way again last year even though Furyk, Wilson and Kuchar also posted final-round birdies. Bettencourt made bogey and Byrd had a double-bogey.

"I don't even know how to describe it," said Michael Letzig, who was paired with Woods during the final round. "It was the best golf I'd ever seen."

The first time Woods did not play the Memorial came in 2006 following the death of his father. He also skipped the tournament in 2008 while recovering from knee surgery, although he defeated Rocco Mediate in a memorable 18-hole playoff two weeks later playing on a broken leg in the U.S. Open at Torre Pines before sitting out the remainder of that season.

Woods has earned a Memorial record $3.8 million in prize money. He also tied for fourth place in 2003, finished third a year later and tied for third in '05.

His 19-under 269 winning total in 2000 was only one shot off the tournament record (268) set by Tom Lehman in 1994.

"We've very proud of the fact that Tiger Woods has been such a big part of the Memorial," Sullivan said.

"The fans here, they've certainly been able to see him at his best."