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August 4, 2009

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Woods returns to winning ways with last Buick crown

THE businesslike nature of Tiger Woods' Buick Open win in Michigan on Sunday signalled the world No. 1 has come to terms with his big British Open letdown and got his game back on track for the PGA Championship.

Almost overlooked in the outpouring of emotion that surrounded what might have been the final Buick Open was a superb week of steadily improving play from Woods, establishing him as the odds-on-favorite going into the year's final major at Hazeltine Golf Club later this month.

For the first time in his career, Woods will play back-to-back events before heading into a major and moves on to Akron, Ohio, for the World Golf Championship event which he has won six times.

"I know what I'm doing wrong," Woods said after collecting his fourth win of the season. "It's just a matter of getting enough reps in. Next few days I'll be able to do that and hopefully solidify come Thursday.

"Firestone's always a difficult track. If we don't get any rain down there, it'll be hard and fast."

Back in action for the first time since the British Open, where he missed the cut in a major for only the second time as a professional, Woods appeared to suffering from a major hangover when he arrived at Warwick Hills.

Erratic opening

After an erratic opening round 71 left him eight shots off the pace, sparking suggestions he might even miss consecutive cuts for the first time as a pro, Woods hit back in spectacular style with a 63 - his low round of the year - on Friday, followed by a 65 and a bogey free 69 on Sunday.

"I didn't do a very good job the first day but after that I got it going pretty good," said Woods. "I've got a few things to work on but I can use this as a little momentum going into the next two weeks."

Australians Greg Chalmers (69), John Senden (71) and American Roland Thatcher, with the round of the day an 8-under 64, finished in tie for second on 17-under 271.

The victory gave Woods his 69th career win, leaving him just four behind Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time list with 73. Three of those wins have now come at the Buick Open, a fixture on the PGA Tour schedule for more than 50 years which looks set to leave Michigan.

When the 14-time major winner stepped on greens the galleries pleaded "One more year" and "Save the Buick".

Woods tossed his ball into the cheering crowd as he made his way up the par three 17th . He did it again at the 18th hole as well.

"I don't ever do that but this is different," Woods said. "We're not coming back here and I just wanted to say thank you to all the people here.

"That's one of the reason why I tossed it at 18 as well. They came out to support this event over all the years, especially this year.

"With the economy, how it is going on in this region, for them to come and still support the event is very special to all us players.

"I have never played in front of fans like this."


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