Woods cruises to Buick victory

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Tiger Woods was delighted by the return of his momentum after his third Buick Open victory on Sunday.

Tiger Woods was delighted by the return of his momentum in Sunday’s victory, his third in the Buick Open here in Grand Blanc, Michigan, and his 69th on the US PGA Tour.
The world number one turned a one-shot overnight lead into a three-stroke victory over Roland Thatcher, John Senden and Greg Chalmers at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.
It gave him his fourth title of the year and enabled him to bounce back from a missed cut at The Open at Turnberry last month at a key time on his 2009 schedule.
“It’s obviously nice to come back after my two playing days in Europe,” said Woods, joking about the missed cut in Scotland – only the fifth of his professional career.
“I got two more days to practice and prepare for this event, which is nice.”
Woods’ last Buick Open win in 2006 was a precursor to victory in that year’s US PGA Championship and so Sunday’s victory bodes well for this year’s final major of the year, which takes place in two weeks at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.
Another factor which could work in the American’s favour is that first he will head to Firestone Country Club for next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, a course he was won at six times before.
He explained: “It’s always nice to win a golf tournament and then head into two big weeks with a bit of momentum.”
Woods, who moved to within four PGA Tour victories of Jack Nicklaus’s 73 and 13 of all-time wins leader Sam Snead, had trailed the first-round lead by eight shots only to charge back into contention with an eight-under 63 around the 7,127-yard par-72 course on Friday.
A third-round 65 moved him to the top of the leaderboard at 17 under par, one shot clear of fellow American Michael Letzig, with Australia’s John Senden 15 under.
Yet Woods needed just a relatively modest, bogey-free closing three-under par 69 to seal victory at 20 under par as a viable challenge to his lead never materialised.
Woods continued: “The guys made the course accessible today, moved up a couple of tees and in the morning there was very little wind.
“The afternoon was a little trickier but you could still shoot a good number. I just had to be patient out there but also stay very focused because there were a lot of distractions.
“I got fooled a few times by the wind today, I made some good shots but got fooled, which is fine, but I made a few bad swings as well. I just hung in there and just ground my way around.”
Both playing partner Letzig and Senden fell away on the front nine as Woods made the turn with a two-shot cushion over the field at 19 under, Letzig’s double bogey at the par-three eighth leaving him four shots back.
The 14-time major winner’s nearest rival was American Thatcher, already in the clubhouse after an early 64 moved him to 17 under, while Senden and fellow Australian Chalmers closed on the same mark with a 70 and 68 respectively for a three-way tie for second place.
Korea’s Y E Yang claimed fifth place at 15 under following a closing 67 while Letzig, whose double bogey at the last on Saturday handed Woods the 54-hole lead, bogeyed the 18th in the final round for a 73 to fall into a tie for sixth with Ben Crane (69).
Lone European Greg Owen finished his weekend with a level-par 72, the Englishman closing at nine under par in a tie for 37th.
American Matt Bettencourt had a day to forget, though. He had started the day in a tie for fourth but opened with a 10 at the par-five first, then bogeyed the par-four second.
A couple of birdies on the back nine raised the spirits – but were followed with a bogey, birdie, bogey, bogey finish for a 78 which left him eight under.
ALL THE FINAL ROUND SCORES
(USA unless stated, par 72):

268 Tiger Woods 71 63 65 69
271 John Senden (Aus) 64 66 71 70, Roland Thatcher 70 64 73 64, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 66 68 69 68
272 Y.E. Yang (Kor) 65 69 71 67
273 Michael Letzig 67 65 68 73, Ben Crane 68 71 65 69
274 John Rollins 68 71 67 68, Brian Vranesh 65 75 67 67, Vaughn Taylor 65 68 69 72, Jimmy Walker 70 64 69 71, Woody Austin 68 71 65 70, Bob Heintz 70 68 66 70
275 Charles Warren 70 65 68 72, Justin Leonard 72 67 69 67, J.P. Hayes 68 71 67 69, Troy Matteson 66 69 72 68
276 Bill Lunde 68 65 71 72, Bill Haas 68 68 69 71, Tim Herron 67 70 70 69, Paul Goydos 66 70 71 69, Billy Mayfair 68 68 69 71, Neal Lancaster 67 70 70 69, Matthew Jones (Aus) 68 68 71 69
277 Chad Campbell 68 71 68 70, Jim Furyk 69 69 69 70, Tim Petrovic 69 67 70 71
278 Scott Piercy 70 70 64 74, James Nitties (Aus) 65 70 71 72, Jason Day (Aus) 74 66 68 70, Bob Estes 70 70 71 67, Nathan Green (Aus) 69 70 71 68, Kevin Stadler 67 67 72 72, Jonathan Byrd 69 71 70 68, Jason Bohn 68 70 72 68, Jason Gore 70 69 71 68
279 Kris Blanks 69 68 72 70, Brian Gay 71 69 67 72, Jeff Quinney 69 67 75 68, Mark Hensby (Aus) 68 72 68 71, Greg Owen (Eng) 68 69 70 72, Heath Slocum 70 70 70 69, Jeff Klauk 66 70 69 74, Leif Olson 68 67 71 73, Marc Leishman (Aus) 67 69 68 75
280 Nick Watney 69 69 70 72, Kevin Na 69 69 70 72, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 67 69 70 74, Tom Byrum 67 73 70 70, Brett Quigley 71 69 66 74, Matt Bettencourt 70 67 65 78
281 Jonathan Kaye 70 67 73 71, Mark Calcavecchia 69 69 73 70, Mark Brooks 69 66 71 75, Tom Pernice Jnr. 67 69 71 74, Matt Harmon 68 68 70 75
282 Charlie Wi (Kor) 68 70 70 74, Kent Jones 70 69 72 71, Chris Stroud 67 71 71 73, Craig Barlow 70 69 73 70, Corey Pavin 66 73 71 72, Stuart Appleby (Aus) 69 67 74 72
283 Guy Boros 70 70 73 70, Darron Stiles 68 71 72 72, Steve Lowery 63 75 73 72, David Duval 69 71 67 76, Rocco Mediate 68 69 79 67
284 Michael Bradley 70 65 76 73, Spencer Levin 70 70 72 72, Aron Price (Aus) 69 68 74 73
285 Carlos Franco (Par) 71 69 75 70
288 Patrick Sheehan 69 71 74 74

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