DUBLIN, Ohio -- Everything seems possible again for Tiger Woods after he produced what Jack Nicklaus called "one of the most incredible shots you will ever see" en route to winning a fifth Memorial title on Sunday.
Memorial host Nicklaus was among the first to congratulate the 36-year-old Woods as he matched his 73 PGA Tour victories, leaving only Sam Snead to catch with 82.
By vaulting up to fourth this week, Tiger Woods is again the top-ranked American.
1. Luke Donald
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Lee Westwood
4. Tiger Woods
5. Bubba Watson
6. Matt Kuchar
7. Justin Rose
8. Hunter Mahan
9. Jason Dufner
10. Martin Kaymer
"He had to rub it in my face right here, didn't he?" Nicklaus said to great laughter. "No, if he's going to do it, which he was obviously going to, I'd like to see it happen here. That was good. That was great."
Woods now hopes to move three behind the Golden Bear's 18-major record at next week's U.S. Open in San Francisco. He’s been stuck on 14 for four years, and if he wins at the Olympic Club, the No. 1 ranking -- currently in the hands of Luke Donald -- will be in range again.
Woods is now up to fourth in the world, behind the top three of Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood. Bubba Watson, who had been fourth since winning the Masters, slipped down a notch into fifth place, while Woods moved up from his previous spot at No. 9.
Also making way for Woods were Matt Kuchar, who fell a spot to sixth; Justin Rose, who dropped a spot to seventh; Hunter Mahan, who slipped down a peg to eighth; and Jason Dufner, who dropped a spot into ninth place. Martin Kaymer rejoined the top 10, moving up one spot from his previous perch at No. 11.
The second 10 includes No. 11 Steve Stricker (down from 10th), No. 12 Phil Mickelson, No. 13 Webb Simpson, No. 14 Charl Schwartzel (up from 16th), No. 15 Louis Oosthuizen (down from 14th), No. 16 Zach Johnson (up from 17th), No. 17 Adam Scott (down from 15th), No. 18 Rickie Fowler (down from 19th), No. 19 Jason Day (down from 18th) and No. 20 Dustin Johnson.
Woods’ magic shot came at Muirfield Village's short 16th. Woods was one behind Rory Sabbatini and over the green in the rough. The flag was down a slope and beyond it was a lake.
"It was where he had to land it, what he had to do and what the penalties were if he didn't make it," Nicklaus said. "Unbelievable. If he hits it short the tournament's over, if he hits it long the tournament's over and he put it in the hole.
"What a shot," he added. "I don't think under the circumstances I've ever seen a better shot."
It impressed Woods, too. He gave one of his famous fist-pumps and roars as the ball dropped, and after adding another birdie at the last, he spoke about yet another comeback win.
This was his third in six months, but followed finishes of 40th at the Masters and Players Championship and a missed cut at Quail Hollow in between.
"To pull off that shot at 16 was pretty sweet, but to be able to tie Jack at 73 wins -- and to do it at such a young age -- feels really special," he said.
Nicklaus was 46 when his 73rd win came in the 1986 Masters.
"It wouldn't have been so bad if the lie was better, but the lie was sketchy enough where it brought water into play," Woods added. "That's one of the reasons why I took such a big cut at it, so if I missed it I missed it short.
"I went for it and for it to land as soft as it did was kind of a surprise because it was baked out and it was also downhill running away from me," he explained. "It just fell in. I didn't think it was going to get there at one point -- kind of like 16 at Augusta (in 2005), I thought I was going to leave it short somehow and then it fell in.
"Today was fun because I striped it. The only shot I double-crossed was the second on 10 - other than that it was just every shot was exactly the shape, the trajectory, the distance control," he said. "I had it all today, shape off tees, whatever club I wanted to hit I could hit. That was fun to have it when I needed it."