Slump Buster Woods Wins Western

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LEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- Tiger Woods capped off a dominating performance at the 100th Western Open Sunday with a closing 69 to secure his 38th career victory on the PGA Tour in wire-to-wire fashion. Woods finished the tournament with a record 21-under-par 267 total, five shots clear of reigning PGA Champion Rich Beem.
 
Woods carried a six-shot lead into the final round at Cog Hill's Dubsdread Course thanks to a Saturday 65. On Sunday, the top player in the game picked up where he left off, hitting his approach to three feet at the par-4 first for an early birdie.
 
At the par-3 second, Woods drained a 15-foot birdie putt to make it two in a row but he found trouble with a bogey at the par-4 fourth.
 
He recovered with a birdie at the very next hole and ran home a 20-footer for birdie at the par-4 seventh. Woods then converted a lengthy putt from the fringe for a birdie at the par-4 eighth to move to 22-under and open a 10 shot lead over the field.
 
Woods wasn't slowing down on the inward half and sent his second shot over the pin and watched as the ball spun back inside three feet of the cup at 10. He converted the short birdie putt and walked over to the 11th tee moments before play was halted due to storms moving through the area.
 
After a weather delay of over 90 minutes, Woods returned to the course and was unlucky off the tee at the par-5 11th. He played his second shot from the rough back onto the fairway but floated his third over the putting surface and into a bunker.
 
Woods blasted out and the ball stopped five feet short of the hole. He calmly drained the par save to keep on moving at 23-under par.
 
The 27-year-old had a putt from the same distance to save par at the par-3 12th and converted. At the par-4 13th, after hitting driver off the tee, Woods hit a 7-iron in to 10 feet and two-putted for par.
 
Woods left his tee shot in a bunker short of the green at the par-3 14th. He blasted out eight feet beyond the hole but this time his par save rolled past the cup for a bogey. His lead over Beem stood at five moments before play was delayed for a second time.
 
Beem picked up two birdies and one bogey on the front side but the reigning PGA champion caught fire early on the inward half. He notched a birdie at the par-4 10th and hit a remarkable second shot through the trees to three feet at the par-5 11th.
 
Been rolled in the short eagle try and followed that up with a birdie at the 12th to move to 16-under.
 
At the par-3 14th, Beem dropped his tee shot within 15 feet and made the putt for another birdie.
 
Players returned to the course after another delay of over one hour and 20 minutes and Woods coasted to the clubhouse.
 
'It's just hard to get into a physical rhythm,' said Woods. 'Mentally you're fine, it's just getting into a physical rhythm because you've got to warm up again. This time we didn't get to warm up.'
 
Despite a bogey at the last, Woods became the first player in the history of the PGA Tour to win at least four tournaments for five consecutive seasons.
 
Woods has been dominant throughout his career when taking at least a share of the lead into the final round, winning 29 of the 31 events in which he has done so. After a brilliant victory at the Western Open, where talks of a slump were left behind, Woods will head east across the pond in search of his first major of 2003 at the British Open.
 
Mike Weir, the Masters champion, and Jim Furyk, the U.S. Open winner, joined 2002 Western Open champion Jerry Kelly in a tie for third place at 14-under- par 274.
 
Robert Allenby and Cliff Kresge shared sixth place at minus-6, followed by Fredrik Jacobson, Chad Campbell and Dudley Hart, who tied for eighth at 12-under-par 276.
 
The Western Open was the last stop on the PGA Tour for players to earn exemptions into the British Open. The top-seven finishers on the British Open money list, which consisted of events through the Players Championship, that got into the British Open in two weeks were: Jonathan Kaye, Rory Sabbatini, Duffy Waldorf, Kresge, Joey Sindelar, Joe Durant and J.L. Lewis.
 
Exemptions also went to the top-eight finishers in this week's Western Open, who weren't otherwise exempt at that list included: Hart, Scott McCarron, Skip Kendall, Ben Curtis, Luke Donald, Jose Coceres, Chris Smith and Tom Byrum.
 
Related Links:
  • TheGolfChannel.com Team Bio: Tiger Woods
  • Full Coverage of the 100th Western Open
  • 100th Western Open Leaderboard