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Tiger caps journey from 95th to 1st

Tiger Woods hits out of the sand on the third hole during the final round of the Buick Open golf tournament Sunday at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Mich.
Tiger Woods hits out of the sand on the third hole during the final round of the Buick Open golf tournament Sunday at Warwick Hills in Grand Blanc, Mich.
Al Goldis, Associated Press

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Tiger Woods has another trophy for his overflowing collection.

Woods shot a 69 Sunday and coasted to a three-shot victory with a 20-under 268 at the Buick Open for the 69th PGA Tour title of his career.

"This one feels good," he said.

He improved to 36-1 when he has the outright lead after 54 holes. Woods has four wins this season — doubling the total of his nearest competitors — in just 11 starts since returning from knee surgery.

Roland Thatcher (64) briefly shared the lead at 17 under and finished tied for second with Greg Chalmers (68) and John Senden (70).

Woods will play at the Bridgestone Invitational next before going to Hazeltine for the PGA Championship, his final chance to win a major this year.

He is set to compete in two straight tournaments going into a major for the first time in his career.

Woods moved into first place in the FedEx Cup standings and padded his lead on the money list with another $918,000 after winning his third Buick Open, tying Vijay Singh's record total.

His career victory total trails Jack Nicklaus (73) and Sam Snead (82).

Woods reached victory No. 69 at the age of 33 years and 7 months — almost seven years quicker than Nicklaus and eight years sooner than Snead.

Dating to the 2006 British Open, he has won 21 of 39 starts on the PGA Tour.

Woods, playing for the first time since missing the cut at the British Open, got off to a brutal start at the Buick Open.

He shot a 71 in the first round and said it was probably the worst putting performance of his career, leading to his skipping his post-round practice session because he was so mad.

It only added to his legacy because he went from a tie for 95th to a victory, the largest jump he's made from the first round in a tournament he ended up winning.

"I was so far back that I was fortunate enough to put two good rounds together," he said.

Woods roared back into contention with the best five-hole start of his career — beginning 6 under in the second round — en route to a 9-under 63 for his best score in relation to par in four years.

He hit the ball relatively poorly in the third round, but made enough clutch shots to finish with a 65 and a one-shot lead going into Sunday.

Without much of a sweat, he avoided losing an outright lead after 54 holes for the first time since 1996 and improved to 47-3 when he at least shares the lead following three rounds.

Thatcher shot a 9 under Sunday and shared the lead briefly, but he expected Woods to pull away with 15 holes left on the vulnerable Warwick Hills.

He did.

Woods, whose previous three wins this year were each by one shot, spent much of Sunday with a two-shot cushion before he took a three-stroke lead with a birdie at No. 16.

His businesslike final round included three birdies and no bogeys.

"I got fooled a few times by the wind and I hit some bad shots," Woods said.

Early and often at Warwick Hills, from the pro-am when he played with famed rocker Bob Seger through Sunday, Woods was thanked by fans who appreciated his appearance in an economically ravaged state at a tournament reportedly on its last leg.

"I've never played in front of fans like this," Woods said.

GolfWeek Magazine reported on its Web site General Motors Co. would end the PGA Tour's longest partnership, and the Associated Press confirmed it with a person briefed on the decision. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement wouldn't be made until after the tournament. GolfWeek also reported The Greenbrier in West Virginia is waiting for the PGA Tour to confirm it will replace the Buick Open in 2010.

Woods said he thought about his walk up the 18th fairway at Warwick Hills being his last.

"Hopefully, we get to come back to this area," he said.

FUNK CAPTURES SENIOR OPEN:Fred Funk set a tournament record by finishing 20-under par and won the U.S. Senior Open by six strokes on Sunday.

Funk shot a 7-under 65 on the final day at Crooked Stick and beat Hale Irwin's previous record set in 2000 by three strokes.

Joey Sindelar finished second at 14 under, his sixth top-10 finish of the season.

Funk shot 13 under the first three days to take the lead. He birdied holes 2, 5 and 9 on Sunday for a 33 on the front nine and was on his way to routing the field.

Funk lost a playoff last week in the Senior British Open. He has fought through knee and shoulder injuries to finish in the top seven in six of his past seven tournaments.

Russ Cochran, who entered the weekend at even par, finished at 12 under and in third place.

Loren Roberts tied the course record with a 64 on Sunday to finish tied for fourth at 11 under. He was ahead of the record until he bogeyed on 17. He made par on 18 to finish 8 under.

Greg Norman, who started the day one stroke behind Funk, finished 11 under and tied for fourth. His tee shot went into the water on No. 6 and he double bogeyed. On the next hole, he shot out of a bunker and landed on the green, but he two-putted and bogeyed.

SCOTTISH MATTHEW WINS WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN:Catriona Matthew won the Women's British Open by three strokes on Saturday, earning her first major title just 10 weeks after she gave birth to her second child.

The 39-year-old Scot birdied three straight holes on the back nine of a 1-over 71 that left her at 3-under 285. Karrie Webb of Australia closed with a 68 to finish second.

Paula Creamer (71), Hee-Won Han (70), Ai Miyazato (73) and Christina Kim (74) tied for fourth place at 289.

All the main challengers faltered down the stretch.

Defending champion Jiyai Shin never threatened in the final round and a double bogey at the last left her with a 75 and a share of eighth place.