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Furyk holds off field to win Buick Open by two strokes

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2003

GRAND BLANC, Mich. Jim Furyk's career year just got better.

Holding off Tiger Woods, Furyk shot a 4-under-par 68 Sunday to win the Buick Open by two strokes. The victory gives the 2003 U.S. Open champion two titles in a year for the first time.

Furyk had won one tournament in each of the previous five seasons.

''It's definitely my best year,'' he said.

Woods carded a 66 in the final round to finish at 19 under, tying for second place with Chris DiMarco, Geoff Ogilvy and Briny Baird. It was Woods' final tuneup before the PGA Championship in two weeks, which will be his last chance this season to win a major.

One of Woods' errant shots hit a fan, who needed three stitches to close a cut on his head.

Furyk's last four PGA Tour victories have come at tournaments where Woods was the defending champion.

Furyk played mistake-free golf other than a three-putt bogey from 26 feet on No. 11 and missing a 3-foot putt for birdie at the par-5 16th. He birdied the round's first two holes to extend the one-stroke lead he began the day with.

When other players mounted challenges on the back nine, Furyk kept them at bay with birdies at Nos. 13 and 14.

''Every time I made a mistake, like I did on 11 and 16, I came right back and hit good golf shots to put it away,'' Furyk said. ''I'm proud of that.''

The last time Furyk led after 54 holes was at the U.S. Open, where he won his first major title and finished with a final score of 272, tying the tournament record held by Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Janzen.

Furyk's 68-66-65-68 performance this week proved that missing the cut at the British Open two weeks ago was not a source of concern for his game, which features an unorthodox swing.

''Early in the week, my ball-striking was mediocre at best, but I did what I needed to do with my short game to score,'' he said. ''As the week went on, I was striking the ball better, and I had a lot of confidence.''

Furyk has been in the top 10 in 13 of 19 tournaments this year, with two victories plus a second- and a third-place finish.

Woods had a chance to become the first repeat champion at the Buick Open since 1965.

While the focus before the tournament was on his switch from a Nike driver to his old Titleist model, it was his putter that failed him over the weekend.

He had plenty of opportunities to put pressure on Furyk and collect his 39th tournament title, but he missed some putts that could have been made. Woods finished second for the 11th time.

''I really didn't make anything all day and I still shot 66,'' Woods said. ''I could have had something really low. If I don't lip out four or five putts it is a ho-hum 62, or even 61. I thought I needed 63 to give me a really good chance, and it just didn't happen.''

Woods' approach shot at No. 7 sailed to the right and bounced off the head of John Yates, a fan in the pack gallery, and landed in the greenside bunker. Yates was laying on his back and his head was bleeding when Woods came over to him.

''I'm so sorry,'' Woods said as he leaned down to shake Yates' hand. ''Hang in there.''

After he birdied the hole, Woods came back to give Yates the ball. He also gave Yates an autographed glove.

When reached at his home in Grand Blanc, Yates said he felt ''great'' and didn't need medical assistance beyond the stitches.

''I helped him out because my head knocked it back toward the hole,'' Yates joked. ''He birdied the hole, I guess. I didn't see it.

''It's my most memorable moment in golf.''

Paul Goydos and Neal Lancaster tied for sixth at 18 under. Kenny Perry was in the top 10 for his seventh straight tournament with a 16-under 272, tied for eighth with Vijay Singh, Andrew Magee and Paul Gow.

Ben Curtis, playing in his first tournament since winning the British Open, shot a 67 to finish 6 under and tied for 61st.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England Annika Sorenstam completed a career Grand Slam at the Women's British Open, beating Se Ri Pak by a stroke in a thrilling head-to-head showdown.

It's the second major title of 2003 for the Swede, who in May became the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour.

By closing her 2-under 70 with a par at the 18th, Sorenstam finished the tournament at 10-under 278 to end a bit of a jinx: She was the British Open runner-up in 1994, 1995 and 1999.

It was an impressive comeback, too. Sorenstam was four shots off the lead and tied for ninth place after two rounds.

Pak, the 2001 champion, helped Sorenstam with a bogey on the final hole after hitting her tee shot into a bunker. That left the South Korean with a final-round 72 and put her at 9 under overall.

CONCORD, Mass. Allen Doyle shot 67 to coast to victory in the FleetBoston Classic, finishing at 15-under-par to win by three strokes for his first title this year on the Champions Tour.

Doyle opened the day with a two-stroke lead and gained ground with an eagle on the fifth hole. He picked up another stroke with a birdie on No. 8 and then parred the last 10 holes to win easily on the 6,591-yard, par-71 Nashawtuc Country Club course.

A native of Rhode Island who played high school hockey in Boston, Doyle waited out a 1-hour, 38-minute rain delay on the 16th hole to finish in front of hundreds of cheering friends and relatives and earn $225,000. Bruce Fleisher shot 66 Sunday, and Bob Gilder had a 68 to tie for second at 12-under. D.A. Weibring and Tom Purtzer were another shot back at 11 under.



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