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Woods coasts to 38th career victory with record-tying 21-under

Posted: Monday, July 07, 2003

LEMONT, Ill. Tiger Woods is going to the British Open with a little bit of history on his side.

And more than a little confidence to boot.

Woods cruised to victory Sunday in the 100th Western Open, his 38th career victory on the PGA Tour and fourth of the season. It marks his fifth straight year with at least four victories, a feat no one else has managed not Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan or Arnold Palmer.

Hogan, Palmer, Tom Watson and Lloyd Mangrum had four straight years with four or more victories.

''That is pretty nice to have that happen,'' Woods said. ''That means I've been consistent. I've been able to not only be consistent, but also to close the deal, too.''

And this is a guy who some say is in a slump? Blame it on the fact that he doesn't hold one of the four major championship titles for the first time in four years.

But he can change that when they go to Royal St. George's in two weeks for the British Open.

''It's certainly a shot of confidence, no doubt about it,'' he said of going into the British Open with a victory. ''Any time you win, you've got to feel pretty good about it. As I said, the things I've been working on are starting to come together.

''Hopefully they'll come together more so at the British Open than they did this week.''

Woods is the fifth three-time winner at the Western, the oldest stop on the PGA Tour. Hogan, Nicklaus and Palmer each won the Western twice.

And his impressive numbers don't stop there. He shot a 69 Sunday, giving him 21-under 267 for the tournament. That matches the tournament record set in 2001 by Scott Hoch.

He missed an 11-footer for par on the 18th that would have given him the record.

Woods led the entire tournament, the first wire-to-wire winner at the Western since Nick Price in 1993. It's the fifth wire-to-wire victory in Woods' career.

''We've got a guy who's superhuman out here this week,'' said Rich Beem, who finished five strokes behind Woods. ''There's going to be times when he does this to fields, but that's OK.''

But give Beem credit, he at least added a small diversion to the inevitable. The winner of last year's PGA Championship opened the back nine with three birdies and an eagle in his first five holes to pull within five shots of Woods.

''I actually thought I had a glimmer of hope after the putt on 14'' that got him within five, Beem said. ''I got his attention. We went back to the locker room and he said, 'Hey, slow down, man.'''

Beem couldn't take advantage of his last par-5, though, ending whatever slim chances he might have had of catching Woods.

''Rich got it going on the back nine and made it interesting,'' Woods said. ''I knew that if he birdied out, I would have to make some pars coming in in order to win the tournament. I was able to do that.''

Jim Furyk, back in Chicago for the first time since winning the U.S. Open three weeks ago, finished seven shots behind Woods in a three-way tie for third. Mike Weir and defending champion Jerry Kelly also finished at 274.

But, really, what chance did anyone have of catching Woods? This victory was almost in the bag even before he teed off Sunday. Of the 31 tournaments he's led after 54 holes, he's won all but two. Plus with a six-stroke cushion to start, all he had to do was play it safe, and the victory not to mention the $810,000 paycheck was his.

He did better than that, though. The first 11 holes at Cog Hill's Dubsdread course are as birdie friendly as an aviary, and Woods took advantage. He had five birdies and only one bogey through 11, and needed just 13 putts.

U.S. Women's Open

NORTH PLAINS, Ore. A shocking collapse by Annika Sorenstam gave way to the first three-way playoff in 16 years at the U.S. Women's Open.

Angela Stanford holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, Kelly Robbins birdied two of the last three holes and Hilary Lunke had to settle for par on the 18th in a dramatic ending Sunday.

They finished at 1-under 283 and will return Monday morning for 18 more holes.

Sorenstam was poised to win after a perfect drive on the par-5 18th hole left her 236 yards away, making birdie seem like a done deal. Instead, she hit into the trees, into a bunker and finished with a bogey.

She closed with a 73 and finished at even-par 284.

Lunke had a chance to win with the final putt, 15 feet below the cup for birdie. It had the right line, but came up a foot short. She closed with a 75.

Canadian PGA Championship

RICHMOND HILL, Ontario Tom Carter beat Jason Bohn in a playoff at the Canadian PGA Championship for his first Nationwide Tour victory.



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