PGA Tour
Woods wins Buick Open for 3rd time



Grand Blanc, MI (Sports Network) - Tiger Woods shot a three-under 69 on Sunday and won the Buick Open for the third time, claiming his 69th PGA Tour title just two weeks after missing the cut at the British Open.

Woods, who picked up his fourth win of the season, made three birdies in a spotless -- if imperfect -- round and improved to 36-1 as the outright 54-hole leader on the PGA Tour.

He finished at 20-under 268 for a three-shot win over hard-charging Roland Thatcher, who fired a 64, Greg Chalmers (68) and John Senden (70).

Woods picked up $918,000 for the win to move almost $1.5 million in front of Steve Stricker at the top of the money list.

He has two lucrative events coming up: the $1.35 million WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he has won six times, and the $7.2 million PGA Championship, where he has won four times.

Woods, without a major this season, moved within four victories of tying Jack Nicklaus for second place on the all-time wins list, a mark he could reach by the end of the season.

"It was just nice to come back after only playing two days in Europe," Woods laughed after the win, referring to his missed cut at the British Open.

Nearly indestructible with the third-round lead -- he has won 16 in a row with at least a share of it -- Woods looked like an even surer thing Sunday without another top-100 golfer in contention.

Struggling with his accuracy all week, the world No. 1 missed his first three fairways in the final round, but scrambled for a par each time to stay even for the lead with Thatcher, who finished in a much earlier group.

Overall, Woods hit only six of 14 fairways Sunday and finished the week tied for 30th in driving accuracy, finding only 53 percent of the fairways.

It helped that the course was set up to be accessible Sunday, Woods said.

"It certainly could be had this morning," he said. "There was very little wind. This afternoon it played a little bit trickier but you could still shoot a good number today. You just had to be patient out there, but also stay very focused because there were certainly a lot of distractions."

Woods made a birdie at No. 4 to take the lead by himself, and he doubled his advantage with a three-foot birdie putt on No. 7.

Missing the fairway for the sixth time Sunday, Woods chipped safely through the trees at the 10th, then pitched his third shot to a about a foot to save another par.

He nearly holed his tee shot at the par-three 11th on the fly, but only made par.

Woods rarely hit from good positions in the final round. He was behind a tree at the par-five 13th, needing a miracle shot to reach the green in two. He tried to sculpt a fairway wood onto the surface -- ill-advised bravado, perhaps -- and hit into the water instead.

Taking his drop about 60 yards from the hole, Woods spun his fourth shot within three feet and walked off with par anyway.

"I hung in there and just grinded my way around," he said.

His streak of eight consecutive pars ended at the 16th, where Woods two-putted from 37 feet from just off the green for his third birdie of the round, taking a three-shot lead.

Woods made a comfortable par at the 17th and tossed his ball into the gallery. As he strolled down the 18th fairway, the win assured, a throng of spectators spilled in behind him.

With the tournament's future in doubt amid reports that General Motors will pull its sponsorship, Woods added to the wins he picked up at Warwick Hills in 2002 and '06.

And there couldn't have been a more fitting ending.

"It's always fun for us to come here and play," said Woods. "The fans were just so enthusiastic all week, but today was certainly special. Everyone was just so jacked up for us to play."

08/02 19:36:46 ET