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Tiger Woods eases to title

Grand Blanc (US): Tiger Woods cruised to a bogey free, final round three-under 69 and a three shot victory to lift the Buick Open title for a third and possibly final time on Sunday.

If the troubled Detroit automaker pulls its sponsorship and the Buick disappears from the PGA Tour calendar as expected next season, then Woods provided a memorable goodbye for a tournament and venue he rates among his favourites.

Playing his first event since missing the cut at the British Open, Woods began a sun-kissed day at Warwick Hills with a one-shot cushion and was not challenged for the lead picking up birdies at the fourth, seventh and 16th for a 20-under 268.

Australians Greg Chalmers (69), John Senden (71) and American Roland Thatcher, with the round of the day an eight-under 64, finished in tie for second on 17-under 271.

Golf’s ultimate frontrunner, the world number one is now 36-1 when holding the solo lead going into final round.

The victory gives Woods his fourth PGA Tour title this season and 69th of his career, leaving him just four behind Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time list with 73.

Three of those wins have now come at the Buick Open, a fixture on the PGA Tour schedule for more than 50 years which looks set to leave Michigan, joining the thousands of auto workers who have lost their jobs.

There has no official announcement about the tournament’s future on Sunday but for the spectators, volunteers and Woods himself the event’'s fate was sealed.

Woods worked his away around the tree-lined layout to an out-pouring of sincere appreciation as spectators acknowledged his loyalty to the event with calls of “Thank you Tiger for remembering Michigan”.

When the 14-time major winner stepped on greens the galleries pleaded “One more year” and “Save the Buick”.

In an uncharacteristic display of emotion, Woods’s intense focus faded as he made his way up the par three 17th and tossed his ball into the cheering crowd.

A beaming Woods did it again at the 18th to even wilder applause.

“I don’t ever do that but this is different,” Woods told reporters. “We’re not coming back here and I just wanted to say thank you to all the people here.

“That’s one of the reason why I tossed it at 18 as well.

“They came out to support this event over all the years, especially this year. (REUTERS)

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