- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 11, 2002

GRAND BLANC, Mich. Tiger Woods was in position to run away with the Buick Open. Instead, he ran into early trouble.
"I didn't really have the stuff I had the last couple days," Woods said. "Didn't quite feel as comfortable over the shots, but I got it to under par for the day, that's something I am proud of."
Woods merely matched the field average yesterday with his 1-under 71, but held onto a one-stroke lead at Warwick Hills. He opened with a 67 and shot a season-best 63 on Friday.
"We're all human," Woods said. "I think that's the simplest way to explain it. This game is so fickle."
Four strokes ahead after the second round, Woods had a double bogey on his first hole and was three strokes behind at one point before rallying to earn a one-stroke lead.
Preparing for the PGA Championship next week at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn., Woods has won 24 of 26 PGA Tour events when leading or tied for the lead entering the final round.
If he holds on for his 33rd victory on the PGA Tour and fourth this year, he would do something that rarely happens in the Buick Open. Since 1958, just 15 of 37 players who have at least shared the lead after 54 holes have won.
Esteban Toledo, who enjoyed the lead for a few holes, was a stroke back at 14 under after a 67. Fred Funk (67) and Bob Tway (68) were 12 under, and first-round leader Kent Jones (70) followed at 11 under.
Of the top five on the leader board, Woods is the only player with a victory in the last four seasons. Toledo and Jones have never won a PGA Tour event.
"I've told a lot of people that I will quit this game if I win," said Toledo, a former professional boxer. "My wife doesn't agree with that because I have to feed the family."
Defending PGA champion David Toms (70) is among a group of four at 10 under.
Woods, playing his first tournament since his chance for a Grand Slam ended at the British Open, had gone 51 holes without a bogey, dating to the third hole in the final round at Muirfield.
But his streak ended with a double bogey on No.1, which dropped him to 12 under.
Woods' drive went into the right rough, his second shot sailed long and left, out of bounds by a foot. His fourth shot landed in a greenside bunker and he missed a 6-foot bogey putt.
Woods got a stroke back with a birdie on No.2. Then he birdied 7 and bogeyed 9 to finish the front nine at 1 over for the day and 13 under overall.
Toledo had a three-stroke lead at 16 under with a birdie at No.13, then struggled and fell into second. His lone career win came in the 2000 Mexican Open, which is not PGA Tour event.
Toledo bogeyed the 15th and missed a 2-foot birdie putt on the next hole. He missed the green on the par-3 17th, then bogeyed to fall to 14 under, one shot behind Woods.
Woods birdied three of five holes on the back nine before bogeying 18.
The winner of seven of the last 12 majors has a chance this week and next to add to his impressive resume.
If Woods wins the Buick Open and the PGA Championship, he would be the first player to win a major after winning a tournament the previous week since Sandy Lyle won the Greater Greensboro Open and the Masters in 1988.
He would also be the first player to win three majors in one year twice. Ben Hogan did it in 1953 and Woods did it two years ago.
Woods won this year's Masters and U.S. Open, the first two legs of the Grand Slam.
Phil Mickelson and Ed Fiori are the two players who have won tournaments in which Woods had at least a share of the lead going into the final round.
Mickelson took him down in the 2000 Tour Championship at East Lake, and Fiori beat him at the 1996 Quad Cities Classic in Woods' third tournament as a pro.
Woods is playing the week before a major for the fourth time and all of those tournaments have been the Buick Open.
In his previous three visits to Warwick Hills, he tied for eighth in 1997, tied for fourth in 1998 and tied for 11th in 2000 before going on to win the PGA as the third leg of his "Tiger Slam."

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