Tue, Aug 08, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Tiger Woods clinches 50th Tour title

EXCLUSIVE CLUB Woods won the Buick Open on Sunday for his 50th victory on the PGA Tour, beating Jack Nicklaus' record pace to the milestone by three years

AP , GRAND BLANC, MICHIGAN

The red shirt was familiar, and so was the result.

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

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 and a check of US$864,000.

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

"That's pretty cool to get to 50," Woods said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd get to 50."

Woods, coming off his emotional victory in the British Open, will get a chance to win his 12th major in two weeks at the PGA Championship in suburban Chicago, where the superstar hopes to close in on the record he covets: Nicklaus' 18 major championships.

Woods has made 196 PGA Tour starts as a pro and 210 overall. Nicklaus won his 50th title in his 280th start overall -- and 262nd as a professional. This year, Woods' four victories have come in 11 events.

At Warwick Hills, Woods 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, but 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.

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.

Joe Durant (67) finished four shots back, alone in third. Vaughn 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 US Ryder Cup team.

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 over the last decade. After matching 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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