Golf: Tiger wins again

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 28, 2007

By Doug Ferguson

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods resumed his improbable pursuit of Byron Nelson with a result that was all too predictable.

Woods caught up to the pack with an eagle, buried the hopes of his final challenger with a birdie and closed with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the Buick Invitational for his seventh consecutive PGA Tour victory, the second-longest streak in history.

Nelson set the record in 1945 with 11 in a row, a record long thought to be out of reach.

The way Woods is playing — no worse than second in stroke play anywhere in the world since July — that might no longer be the case.

Woods won six in a row in 2000, a streak that Phil Mickelson stopped at Torrey Pines. But against a cast of challengers short on experience and victories, the world’s No. 1 player met little resistance in winning the Buick Invitational for the third straight year.

Woods doesn’t consider this a true winning streak because he lost once in Europe and twice in Asia since September. But it still counts in the PGA Tour record books, and the only question is when it will resume.

Woods was headed for the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday night, and he was not sure if would play his next PGA Tour event at the Nissan Open on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles or the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona a week later.

“To somehow sneak out with the win is a cool feeling,” Woods said.

He got some help from Andrew Buckle and Jeff Quinney, both of whom had at least a share of the lead on the back nine until stumbling in a span of about 15 minutes on a cool, breezy afternoon at Torrey Pines.

Charles Howell III provided the final challenge with three birdies in a four-hole stretch, but Woods answered with an approach to 21/2 feet on the 17th hole for birdie that allowed him to play it safe on the par-5 closing hole.

Woods finished at

15-under 273 for his 55th career victory, the fifth time he has started a new season with a trophy.

Howell had a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th that could have forced a playoff, but he played it too high over the ridge and wound up three-putting for par to close with 68.

“I gave him a run,” Howell said. “Anytime you try to win a tournament against that guy, it’s tough. I played well down the stretch. He just never flinched.”

The same couldn’t be said for Buckle and Quinney, who each took double bogey along the back nine on the South Course to quickly take themselves out of contention. Brandt Snedeker, tied for the

54-hole lead with Buckle, closed with a 71 and finished third.

The PGA Tour winning streak dates to his victory in the British Open last July, and Woods is now 124-under par during that stretch.

This win looked like so many others, especially at Torrey Pines. Part of it was due to him, most of it was due to the guys falling apart down the stretch.

In other golf news …

* DOHA, Qatar — South African star Retief Goosen won for the Qatar Masters, eagling the final hole for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke victory over Nick O’Hern.

Goosen finished with a 15-under 273 total for his 32nd international victory. O’Hern closed with a 70, and 2005 winner Ernie Els (67) was third at 12 under.

* PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) — Argentina’s Miguel Carballo won the Nationwide Tour’s season-opening Panama Championship, closing with a

5-under 65 for a two-stroke victory over Jim McGovern, Hunter Haas and Patrick Sheehan.