Golf: Tiger wins Buick

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 3, 2009

By Larry Lage
Associated Press
GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. ó Tiger Woods has another trophy for his overflowing collection.
Woods shot a 69 Sunday and coasted to a three-shot victory with a 20-under 268 at the Buick Open for the 69th PGA Tour title of his career.
“This one feels good,” he said.
He improved to 36-1 when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. Woods has four wins this season ó doubling the total of his nearest competitors ó in just 11 starts since returning from knee surgery.
Roland Thatcher (64) briefly shared the lead at 17 under and finished tied for second with Greg Chalmers (68) and John Senden (70).
Woods will play at the Bridgestone Invitational next before going to Hazeltine for the PGA Championship, his final chance to win a major this year.
He is set to compete in two straight tournaments going into a major for the first time in his career.
Woods moved into first place in the FedEx Cup standings and padded his lead on the money list with another $918,000 after winning his third Buick Open, tying Vijay Singh’s record total.
His career victory total trails Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).
Woods reached victory No. 69 at the age of 33 years and seven months ó almost 7 years quicker than Nicklas and eight years sooner than Snead.
Dating to the 2006 British Open, he has won 21 of 39 starts on the PGA Tour.
Woods, playing for the first time since missing the cut at the British Open, got off to a brutal start at the Buick Open.
He shot a 71 in the first round and said it was probably the worst putting performance of his career, leading to him skipping his post-round practice session because he was so mad.
It only added to his legacy because he went from a tie for 95th to a victory, the largest jump he’s made from the first round in a tournament he ended up winning.
“I was so far back that I was fortunate enough to put two good rounds together,” he said.
Woods roared back into contention with the best five-hole start of his career ó beginning 6 under in the second round ó en route to a 9-under 63 for his best score in relation to par in four years.
He hit the ball relatively poor in the third round, but made enough clutch shots to finish with a 65 and a one-shot lead going into Sunday.
Without much of a sweat, he avoided losing an outright lead after 54 holes for the first time since 1996 and improved to 47-3 when he at least shares the lead following three rounds.
Thatcher shot a 9 under Sunday and shared the lead briefly, but he expected Woods to pull away with 15 holes left on the vulnerable Warwick Hills.
He did.
Woods, whose previous three wins this year were each by one shot, spent much of Sunday with a two-shot cushion before he took a three-stroke lead with a birdie at No. 16.