GRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Tiger Woods rolled in a long birdie
putt and cupped his left ear to coax a louder reaction from one of
the tour's rowdiest galleries.
Playing two groups behind, Vijay Singh's lead was down to two
strokes, but he wasn't concerned about the roar from No. 17 -- or
the world's top-ranked golfer.
"Tiger was never really ever within five shots of me all day,"
said Singh, who shrugged when informed that Woods was in fact
closer to his lead.
Singh followed up three spectacular rounds with an average one
and it was enough to win his third Buick Open, holding off a
surging Woods. Singh closed with a final-round 70 for a four-stroke
victory and a 24-under 264 total.
The Fijian said he never really worried about losing his lead.
"I wasn't as aggressive," he said. "I felt very much in
control so I didn't want to make any mistakes because nobody was
making a charge. To protect the lead is not a fun way to play."
What was an exciting tournament for three days became
anticlimactic during the final round until Woods created a buzz
with his comeback attempt.
Woods, who began the day eight shots back, vaulted into
contention with six birdies and an eagle in a nine-hole stretch.
"I thought if I played a great back nine, I might be in
position just in case Vijay messed up, but he's playing too well to
do that," Woods said after tying for second.
Following his 17-foot putt for birdie at 17, Woods whipped the
gallery into a frenzy with a gesture usually reserved for
"I wanted to know how loud those drunk guys get," he said.
"They were pretty hammered, they were wobbling as it was."
Woods' drive at the final hole sailed wide right while Singh
made his second birdie at No. 16 to take a three-shot lead. Woods
bogeyed the final hole and fell another shot back, finishing with a
Woods, the top-ranked player in the world, and second-ranked
Singh have alternated positions atop the rankings for nearly a
Zach Johnson (69) tied for second -- his best finish this year --
at 20 under.
"The cream rises to the top, and that's the best cream there
is," Johnson said.
Robert Allenby (65) finished 18 under, alone in fourth. Allenby
aced the 179-yard 11th, helping him finish in the top 10 for the
first time since February.
Singh is the first three-time champion at the Buick Open, a
tournament that started in 1958. He's also the first to repeat
since Tony Lema in 1965.
The 42-year-old Fijian has won four events this year and 28 in
his career. Singh trails only Woods' 44 victories and leads Phil
Mickelson by two among active PGA Tour players.
Singh's five-shot lead was his largest entering a final round.
The four times he led by three after 54 holes, he won each event,
including the 2000 Masters.
The large cushion allowed him to play conservatively, making two
birdies and 16 pars.
"I wasn't aggressive, but I didn't need to be," said.
Singh matched the Buick Open's 54-hole record of 22-under 194.
"You never win the golf tournament on Saturday, but you can put
yourself in position to win," he said.
If he shot 67 or better for the sixth straight time at Warwick
Hills, he would've eclipsed Robert Wrenn's tournament mark of 26
under, set in 1987.
"I wasn't trying to break the record, my goal was to win the
golf tournament," he said.
Singh started the week with three victories, the same total he
had entering the 2004 Buick Open. His last victory 60 miles north
of Detroit started a run of six wins in eight events, including the
PGA Championship. He went on to win player of the year honors.
"I'm playing better this year than I did last year," Singh
said. "I'm excited. I just hope I can follow what I did last year.
It's going to be almost impossible, but I'm going to give it a
Singh will go for his third PGA Championship title and fourth
major victory in two weeks.
Woods played for the first time since winning the British Open
two weeks ago. At Baltusrol in New Jersey, he'll shoot for his 11th
major title and third this year.
"I've played really well in the majors this year, hopefully the
PGA will be a culmination of that," he said.
Woods had an up-and-down tournament. He opened with a 71, then
had an 11-under 61 -- his career best round in relation to par --
before falling back with a 70 on Saturday. He tied the Buick Open
record with three eagles, including two in a row in the second
On Nos. 1-4, Woods had five bogeys and one birdie over the four
rounds. On the other 14 holes, he had 20 birdies, three eagles and
"I had it going at times, but I couldn't keep it together for
72 holes and that's disappointing," he said.