It's 7 PGA wins in row for Woods
But his main focus now is Masters
Tiger Woods is more interested in a fifth green jacket at the Masters than 11 straight victories on the PGA Tour.
At this rate, he might have a chance to get both.
Woods resumed his improbable pursuit of Byron Nelson with a predictable result at the Buick Invitational in San Diego yesterday, winning for the third straight year to stretch his PGA Tour winning streak to seven. That's the second-longest streak in Tour history behind Nelson in 1945, and there is little evidence anyone can stop him.
"It ain't easy beating that guy," said Charles Howell, who certainly tried.
Woods caught up to the pack with a 3-wood from 276 yards to set up a 25-foot eagle putt on the ninth hole. He buried the hopes of his final challenger with a 9-iron to 2 1/2 feet on the 17th hole for birdie. His final act was figuring out how to get his ball out of a small hole in front of the 18th green, hitting it with the edge of his sand wedge to 3 feet for a par and a two-shot victory over Howell.
It gave him a 6-under-par 66, the best score all week on the demanding South Course, site of the US Open next year. Nelson's record often has been thought to be untouchable, which now describes the world's No. 1 player.
"As far as how special seven is, you're in elite company," Woods said. "There's only one person ahead of you. He's one of the greatest legends in the history of the game. To be in company like with Mr. Nelson . . . it's pretty special."
This is the second time Woods has made a run at Nelson, who died in September.
Woods won six straight in 2000, a streak that Phil Mickelson stopped at Torrey Pines. But against a cast of challengers short on experience or victories, Woods met little resistance in winning at Torrey Pines for the fifth time in 10 tries.
All that matters to Woods is his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's record 18 professional majors. Woods has won two majors during his PGA Tour streak, taking him to 12 for his career.
"My whole goal is to get ready for Augusta and make sure my game is peaking toward that," he said.
Woods left for the Dubai Desert Classic -- an 18-hour flight -- and said he wasn't sure if his next PGA Tour event would be the Nissan Open at Riviera that starts Feb. 15, or the
Woods finished at 15-under 273 for his 55th career victory, and the fifth time he has started a season by winning.
He got some help from Tour rookies 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. Each took double bogey to quickly take themselves out of contention, leaving only Howell (68) to challenge Woods.
Howell nearly pulled it off. He made three birdies in a four-hole stretch and had a 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but he played it too high over the ridge and three-putted for par and a 68.
"I gave him a run," Howell said. "Any time you try to win a tournament against that guy, it's tough. I played well down the stretch. He just never flinched."
Brandt Snedeker, the 26-year-old rookie who opened the tournament with a 61, was tied for the lead with Buckle going into the final round but didn't make a birdie until the ninth hole. He shot 71 to finish third. Buckle (72) was in the group another shot back.
Champions -- Fred Funk had the most lopsided victory ever in a 54-hole Champions Tour event, shooting his second straight 8-under 64 for an 11-stroke win in the Turtle Bay Championship in Kahuku, Hawaii.
The 50-year-old Funk, still a regular on the PGA Tour, ended the suspense early with six birdies in a front-nine 30 and finished with a tournament-record 23-under 193 total in the tour's first full-field event of the year.
"Probably my best three days of putting I've ever had," said Funk.
Tom Kite, who tied for second last week in the MasterCard Championship, went double bogey-bogey on the last two holes to close with a 71, dropping him into a five-way tie at 12 under with 2006 winner Loren Roberts (66), Tom Purtzer (66), Denis Watson (68), and Kiyoshi Murota (72).
Funk, a seven-time PGA Tour winner, broke the 54-hole record of 195 set by Jim Colbert in 1991 when the event was played on Maui on a par-70 course.
European -- Retief Goosen eagled the final hole to win the Qatar Masters in Doha, beating Nick O'Hern (70) by a stroke for his first title in more than a year.
The South African birdied the 17th and closed with a 3-under 69 and finished at 15-under 273.
Ernie Els, the 2005 Qatar Masters winner, shot a 67 and finished two strokes behind Goosen.