woods ends buick open era on a high

MICHIGAN - Tiger Woods cruised to his easiest victory of the year, getting away with an awful round to open the Buick Open and an average one to hold off a weak field.

MICHIGAN - Tiger Woods cruised to his easiest victory of the year, getting away with an awful round to open the Buick Open and an average one to hold off a weak field.

His competition and the courses he is going to play are about to get much tougher.

Woods shot a 3-under 69 and coasted to a three-shot victory with a 20-under 268 total at Warwick Hills, which hosted its first Buick Open in 1958 and seemed to stage its final one on Sunday.

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

His businesslike final round included three birdies and no bogeys and he won without trailing in the final round for the first time since Bay Hill last year.

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

Woods scheduled himself to compete in two straight tournaments going into a major for the first time in his career.

"I feel good," he said. "The win helps."

Woods won the Buick Open for the third time and claimed his 69th PGA Tour victory, but the end-of-an-era feel made it more than a ho-hum experience.

"I've played all around the world, and I've never seen a day like this," Woods said. "This event has always been special, but today was something else."

He acknowledged thinking about his walk up the 18th fairway at Warwick Hills being his last, leading to him throwing his ball with a lot of velocity back down the fairway to fans. He also tossed a ball into the gallery at 17.

"I never do that, but today was different," Woods said.

"We aren't coming back here, and I wanted to thank all these people."

Golf-PGA Tour 2009 FedExCup points table (US unless stated):

1. Tiger Woods 2551 points; 2. Steve Stricker 2059; 3. Kenny Perry 1902; 4. Zach Johnson 1892; 5. Phil Mickelson 1616; 6. Brian Gay 1540; 7. Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) 1533; 8. Lucas Glover 1527; 9. Sean O'Hair 1472; 10. Retief Goosen (SA) 1402. - Sapa-AP and Reuters

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