AP News

Woods blows away field for 8-shot victory at Firestone

Photo: Amy Sancetta/AP

Woods started the final round one stroke behind Rory Sabbatini.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods looked as unbeatable as ever Sunday at Firestone.

Woods erased a one-shot deficit in two holes, then buried Rory Sabbatini and the rest of the field to win the Bridgestone Invitational for the third straight year and send him to the PGA Championship with his game in good shape.

Woods made a 12-foot par putt on the final hole that kept him bogey-free on a rainy afternoon at Firestone. He closed with a 5-under 65 for an eight-shot victory over Sabbatini and Justin Rose, tying a PGA Tour record for most victories at one golf course.

It was the second time Woods has strung together three straight victories at this World Golf Championship, and he continued his dominance in these WGC events by winning for the 14th time in 25 tries.

Sabbatini shot 74 and was left in his wake again.

The fiery South African also lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship, then caused a brief stir by claiming later than Woods looked "beatable as ever."

Not on this course. Woods picked up five shots in a five-hole stretch along the front nine, and it was no contest after that. He joined Jack Nicklaus (Augusta National) and Alex Ross (Pinehurst No. 2) as the only players to win six times on the same course.

Next up is Southern Hills and the PGA Championship for the final major, something Woods has failed to win this year.

Women's British Open=

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) - Splashed with champagne, Lorena Ochoa was certain her first major victory would come at the home of golf.

She completed a runaway four-stroke victory in the Women's British Open following a 1-over-par 74. After hugging her caddie and getting doused with bubbly by her father, the top-ranked Mexican reflected on what she had done.

"It's a long way, 24 majors, and finally I have this (trophy) here, and I think it's for a reason and I couldn't be more happy," she said. "I believed I would win this tournament Monday, when I started practicing.

"I wanted to win this tournament so bad. Everything I did, my thoughts (before the tournament) were very positive and very clear to me. I saw myself on the 18th green, lifting the trophy. It was clear, it was great and even better now that we did it."

Ochoa, who tied for second at the U.S. Women's Open a month ago, had been banging on the door of a major victory for a while. This was her fourth victory of the year to go with the six she collected last year. During those 24 months, she was runner-up 10 times.

"This is the most special round of golf I ever played," said Ochoa, who led the tournament from the ninth hole of her opening-round 67. "Hopefully this is the first of many (majors) to come. It was my time."

Ochoa, who passed $2 million in earnings this year and has a million more than anyone else, made history on all sorts of fronts. She won the first women's professional tournament to be staged at St. Andrews, home of the exclusively male Royal & Ancient Club. And she became the first player to win her first major at St. Andrews since Tony Lema's triumph in the men's British Open in 1964.

Ochoa finished with a 5-under 287 total, four strokes better than Jee Young Lee (71) and Maria Hjorth (71). Reilley Rankin (71) was another stroke back at par.

Annika Sorenstam, who shared third entering the final round, finished at 296 after a 76 that included a 7 at the 17th Road Hole. In teeming rain that made scoring difficult from mid-afternoon, Sorenstam felt her foot slip on the grass and she sliced her tee shot so far right it almost struck the Old Course Hotel.

Reno-Tahoe Open=

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Steve Flesch shot an even-par 72 in blustery conditions to hang on for a five-stroke victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open, his third career win on the PGA Tour and first in more than two years.

Flesch, who began the day with the same lead after rounds of 63-69-69, had three birdies and three bogeys to finish at 15-under par 273. He missed only 10 greens his first 54 holes but hit only three of his first 10 on Sunday with winds gusting up to 30 mph at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

"It was a tough two years but I'm glad to be back in the winner's circle," said Flesch, who became the first on tour this year to lead wire to wire.

Kevin Stadler shot a 70 and Charles Warren a 71 to tie for second at 10-under 278. The 74.25 scoring average Sunday was the sixth-highest final-round average on tour this year.

Rich Barcello, who lives in Reno and played golf at the University of Nevada, had a 68 for the best round of the day and a tie for fourth with PGA rookie John Merrick (74) at 8-under 280.

Steve Elkington bogeyed the last hole for a 73 to finish another stroke back at 7-under 281 in a tie with Shaun Micheel (68) and Brendon de Jonge (72).

Champions Tour=

BLAINE, Minn. (AP) - D.A. Weibring birdied the last three holes to overtake Jay Haas and win the 3M Championship by one stroke.

Weibring shot a 5-under 67 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Haas had a 9-under 63.

Mitch Adams also shot a 63 to finish one shot back at 16 under, his best finish in three years as a professional. Local favorite John Harris, from Edina, Minn., shot 66 to also finish at 16 under.

Tom Jenkins and Jim Thorpe finished at 15 under. Thorpe eagled the last hole and Jenkins made a 53-foot birdie.

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