Woods wins the Buick Open

Sunday, August 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GRAND BLANC, Michigan (AP) _ Tiger Woods shot a 2-under 70 Sunday to win the Buick Open by four shots at 17 under. It was his 33rd PGA Tour victory and fourth in his last eight starts.

Esteban Toledo, who began the final round one stroke behind Woods, stayed with the world's best golfer through 12 holes, but then collapsed with three straight bogeys.

Toledo shot a 1-over 73 to finish at 13 under, tied for second with Mark O'Meara (68), Brian Gay (68) and Fred Funk (71). It matched Toledo's best finish.

Woods insisted he was at Warwick Hills to win and not just practice for the fourth major. He opened with a 67, shot a season-best 63 on Friday and a 71 Saturday.

Although he missed a chance to win the Grand Slam with his 28th-place tie at the British Open three weeks ago, Woods has an opportunity to do something no other golfer has, beginning Thursday at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minnesota.

Woods, who won this year's Masters and U.S. Open, will be the first to win three majors in a year twice if he wins the PGA Championship. Ben Hogan did it in 1953 and Woods, who has won seven of the last 12 majors, did it two years ago.

He can also be the first player to win a major after winning a tournament the previous week since Sandy Lyle won the Greater Greensboro Open and the Masters in 1988.

Woods is 25-2 in PGA Tour events when leading or tied for the lead after 54 holes. Since 1958, just 16 of 38 players who have at least shared the lead after 54 holes have won the Buick Open.

Woods and Toledo were essentially engaged in match play while the rest of the field failed to threaten them, until the former professional boxer bogeyed Nos. 13-15.

On No. 1, a hole he double-bogeyed on Saturday, Woods opened a two-stroke lead with a birdie.

Toledo got the stroke back with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 4. Woods missed a 6-foot putt to bogey 5 and fall into a tie at 15 under.

Woods went back ahead by a stroke on No. 6 with a 40-foot birdie putt. The crowd roared when he punched the air _ as he has done countless times _ with his right fist. Both players birdied No. 7.

Toledo allowed Woods to go ahead by two strokes when he missed a 5-foot putt at No. 9, but got the shot back with a birdie on the next hole.

Refusing to let Toledo's confidence grow, Woods put his tee shot a foot from the pin at the par-3 11th, and made the birdie for another two-stroke lead.

Toledo bounced back with a birdie on 12 to pull within a stroke before falling apart with bogeys at Nos. 13 and 14, among the easiest holes, and at 15.

Woods double-bogeyed 17 to fall to 17 under, but was still three strokes ahead. Toledo bogeyed 18.

Woods is playing the week before a major for the fourth time and all of those tournaments have been the Buick Open, which he won for the first time.

Phil Mickelson, who will have another chance to win his first major at Hazeltine, had an erratic week. He made 24 birdies, 10 bogeys and three double bogeys to finish in a tie for 29th at 8 under.

Defending PGA Championship winner David Toms (71) finished tied for 10th at 11 under.