Woods extends PGA win streak to seven
An eagle on No. 9 and a birdie on No. 17 put the field to rest.
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Tiger Woods resumed his improbable pursuit of Byron Nelson with a result that was all too predictable.
Woods caught up to the pack with an eagle, buried the hopes of his final challenger with a birdie and closed with a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the Buick Invitational for his seventh consecutive PGA Tour victory, the second-longest streak in history.
Nelson set the record in 1945 with 11 in a row, a record long thought to be out of reach.
The way Woods is playing -- no worse than second in stroke play anywhere in the world since July -- that might no longer be the case.
Woods won six in a row in 2000, a streak that Phil Mickelson stopped at Torrey Pines. But against a cast of challengers short on experience and victories, the world's No. 1 player met little resistance in winning the Buick Invitational for the third straight year.
Woods doesn't consider this a true winning streak because he lost once in Europe and twice in Asia since September. But it still counts in the PGA Tour record books, and the only question is when it will resume.
Dubai Classic next
Woods was headed for the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday night, and he was not sure if would play his next PGA Tour event at the Nissan Open on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles or the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona a week later.
"To somehow sneak out with the win is a cool feeling," Woods said.
He got some help from Andrew Buckle and Jeff Quinney, both of whom had at least a share of the lead on the back nine until stumbling in a span of about 15 minutes on a cool, breezy afternoon at Torrey Pines.
Charles Howell III provide the final challenge with three birdies in a four-hole stretch, but Woods answered with an approach to 21/2 feet on the 17th hole for birdie that allowed him to play it safe on the par-5 closing hole.
Woods finished at 15-under 273 for his 55th career victory, the fifth time he has started a season with a trophy.
Howell had a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th that could have forced a playoff, but he played it too high over the ridge and wound up three-putting for par to close with 68.
"I gave him a run," Howell said. "Anytime you try to win a tournament against that guy, it's tough. I played well down the stretch. He just never flinched."
The same couldn't be said for Buckle and Quinney, who each took double bogey along the back nine on the South Course to quickly take themselves out of contention. Brandt Snedeker, tied for the 54-hole lead with Buckle, closed with a 71 and finished third.
Buckle held it together for the longest time.
Woods erased a two-shot deficit in four holes, but the 24-year-old Australian bounced back with an approach into 6 feet for birdie on No. 5, and nearly reaching the par-5 sixth green from the right rough to set up a simple up-and-down birdie and a two-shot lead. And even after a roar that resonated across the course, Buckle didn't blink.
Woods hammered a 3-wood from the ninth fairway to 25 feet and holed the putt for eagle and a share of the lead. Buckle was walking up the ninth fairway to his tee shot, calmly taking a drag from a cigarette. He looked up when he heard the cheer, flicked the cigarette to the ground and stomped it out, then birdied the next two holes.
He still had a two-shot lead over Woods and Quinney when he reached the 12th tee, but his tee shot caught a corner of grass on the edge of a fairway bunker, and that's when everything collapsed.
Buckle's feet slipped in the sand as he struck the ball, which sailed well to the right and left him little green between a bunker and the flag. Attempting a flop shot to give himself a short putt at par, it came out too strong and tumbled over the green on the other side. He pitched to 4 feet and missed the putt, taking double bogey.
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