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Woods wins Buick Open for 50th PGA Tour victory


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Woods wins Buick Open for 50th PGA Tour victory


By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer

August 6, 2006





GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) -- The ultimate goal for Tiger Woods is to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record for victories in professional majors.


Along the way, he also hopes to break Sam Snead's mark for PGA Tour wins.


Woods won his 50th PGA Tour title Sunday, shooting his fourth straight 6-under 66 for a three-stroke victory over Jim Furyk in the Buick Open.


"I've had a lot of wonderful things happen to me in my career so far on tour in 10 years," he said. "It's been a great ride."


Woods reached a season-low 24 under and made a career-high 28 birdies in the tournament to hold off Furyk -- who closed with a 64 -- for his fourth win of the year. Woods earned $864,000 to push his tour-leading total to $5,127,563.





He picked up his latest win after his emotional victory in the British Open and before he shoots for his 12th major in two weeks at the PGA Championship, where he hopes to close in on the record he covets: Nicklaus' 18 pro major championships.


Woods became the seventh member of the PGA Tour's 50-win club and improved to 21-for-21 when leading by more than one stroke after three rounds. The 30-year-old Woods beat Nicklaus' record pace to the milestone, which Nicklaus reached in 1973 at 33.


Snead is atop the PGA Tour's career wins list with 82, ahead of Nicklaus (73), Ben Hogan (64), Arnold Palmer (62), Byron Nelson (52) and Billy Casper (51).


Woods said "hopefully" he'll have enough success to catch Snead.


"It's going to be a lifetime, a career, to get to that point and attain something like that," Woods said. "It took me 10 years to get here, hopefully I can continue playing well over the next 10, 20 years."


Woods has won nearly a fourth of his 210 PGA Tour events. Nicklaus won his 50th title in his 280th start.


Vaughn Taylor, who finished five shots back, is in awe of Woods.


"He's probably the greatest player to ever play the game, and we get to watch him every week," Taylor said. "I can't even imagine doing the things he's done."


This year, Woods' four victories have come in 11 events.





At Warwick Hills, he likely ended any hopes his competitors had when he made four birdies on the front nine to build on the two-shot lead he had at the start of the fourth round.


Woods bogeyed the 12th hole, allowing Furyk to tie him briefly.


"I kept saying to myself, 'If Jim ties me, I'm still in the driver's seat because I have the easier holes coming up,"' Woods said.


He took the lead alone for good at 13 when his approach from 105 yards landed close enough for a tap-in birdie. At 15, Woods' birdie gave him a two-shot lead and essentially clinched his second Buick Open victory.


After making a 7-foot par putt at 17, Woods took a two-shot lead into the final hole and was able to enjoy his latest victory stroll up the fairway where an overflow crowd cheered louder each step that he got closer to the green. Fittingly, he made a birdie at 18.


Woods, also the 2002 winner at Warwick Hills, fell one stroke short of his 72-hole record of 25-under 263 from the 2002 WGC-American Express Championship, then said he really doesn't like playing in shootouts.


"I enjoy playing where single digits is a good winning score," he said.


Joe Durant (67) finished four shots back, alone in third. Taylor (68) and Scott Verplank (69) tied for fourth at 19 under with Sean O'Hair (67) to improve their chances of earning spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.


Taylor moved up to seventh and Verplank went from 22nd to 18th. The top 10 players earn automatic berths on the team next month in Ireland.


Vijay Singh had a chance to become the first player to win three straight Buick Opens -- and four overall -- when he started the day three shots back. But Singh closed with a 70 to tie for 11th at 17 under.


"I never got any momentum going," he said. "I drove the ball beautifully, but couldn't make anything."


After winning at Royal Liverpool, Woods sobbed uncontrollably in the arms of caddie Steve Williams and wife Elin because he won for the first time since his father's death in May.


The scene at Warwick Hills' 18th green was one the world has become more accustomed to since he turned pro in 1996. After making a 10-footer to match the score he had in the three previous rounds, he pumped his fist, punched the air, tipped his cap and smiled as he wiped sweat -- not tears -- off his face.


"At this course, the goal is to shoot 66 every day," Williams said. "I guess we accomplished that, eh?"





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