| Tiger Woods with the trophy after winning the Western Open in Lemont Sunday. (AFP)
Lemont (Illinois): Tiger Woods recorded his fourth victory in 10 US starts this year, firing a three-under-par 69 to cruise to a five-stroke win at the 100th Western Open Sunday.
The world number one finished 21-under on 267 to tie the 72-hole scoring record for the tournament created by Scott Hoch in 2001. US PGA champion Rich Beem (67) was second on 272.
US Open winner Jim Furyk (65), U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada (68) and Jerry Kelly (68) were joint third on 274. Australian Robert Allenby and Cliff Kresge shared sixth spot on 275, 13 under.
Woods began the round with a six-stroke lead after setting the 54-hole tournament scoring record of 198, 18 under.
He opened with birdies on the first two holes and picked up another shot at the 10th to surge ten strokes clear. But bogeys at the 14th and 18th, coupled with Beem playing holes 10 to 14 in five-under, reduced the eventual winning margin.
Woods won for the 38th time on the PGA Tour and it was the third Western Open title of his career. It also marked the fifth consecutive year he has won at least four times in one season.
Play was suspended twice Sunday for a total of more than three hours because of dangerous weather conditions around the Cog Hill Golf and Country Club area.
Woods has not won since the Bay Hill Invitational in March but he always refused to consider suggestions that he was in a form slump. “One of the things I’ve learned about being out here is not to get trapped in this up-and-down rollercoaster of the press, sensationalism,” he told reporters.
“I never was in a slump, I kept saying I was getting close. This week I made some putts.”
Woods led the field in putts per round (26.0) this week, including 26 on the final day. He was also number one in driving distance, with an average of 303.4 yards. “Today, I just tried to shoot about three or four-under par on the front nine and just basically put it out of reach,” he said.
Runner-up Beem said: “He just kind of got into a groove. I think when you get into a groove, golf seems really easy and fun, and for him it’s even easier than it is for everyone else.
“I could sit there and watch him hit golf balls all day long. It’s that impressive.”
Woods’ other victories in the US this year were in the World Matchplay Championship at La Costa, California in March and in the Buick Invitational at La Jolla, California in February.