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Tiger holds off Goosen, wins in Ireland
by Doug Ferguson

THOMASTOWN, Ireland (AP) ? Tiger Woods failed to play his first tournament without a bogey, but he still got the prize that mattered - a victory in the American Express Championship on Sunday and the $1 million payoff.

Woods missed a 3 -foot par putt on the final hole at Mount Juliet for a 6-under 66, but at least he could afford his first and only bogey of the tournament.

Retief Goosen put together a spectacular charge, tying his career-low round with a 62 and finished one stroke behind.

Woods finished at 25-under 263, matching his lowest score in relation to par in a 72-hole tournament. He also was 25 under at the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic.

He started the final round with a five-stroke lead, and kept a comfortable margin throughout a cool, cloudy afternoon in Ireland.

Goosen made him sweat by playing six holes in 6-under par, including a 6-foot eagle putt on the 17th hole that brought him to within one shot of the lead. Goosen had a 22-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, but missed to the right.

Behind him, Woods struggled on the par-5 17th by hitting his tee shot under a tree, his next shot into the rough, and leaving himself 18 feet for birdie. The putt was true, and Woods showed more emotion than he has all week when it fell.

The only disappointment was the finish.

Woods had 237 yards to the green, but angrily backed off his shot because of a photographer. He pushed his approach into the rough, but chipped to 3 feet. The tournament was over - this was personal.

Woods has never gone an entire tournament without a bogey, and he had played his last 81 holes at par or better. He pushed the short putt, tapped in and still kept his perspective.

He won.

Playing in his final tournament before the Ryder Cup, and using Nike Golf irons in competition for the first time, Woods answered any questions about his form.

It was his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year, making him the first player since Arnold Palmer (1960-63) to go four consecutive seasons with at least five victories.

Woods now has won five World Golf Championships, at least one year every year since the series began in 1999 to bring together the best players in the world.

Goosen, who finished second to Woods in the Masters and joked about getting the green trousers as the runner-up, had to settle for a $540,000 consolation prize.

He had to share the course record with Sergio Garcia, who also had a 62.

Vijay Singh closed with a 65 and finished third at 21-under 267. Jerry Kelly and David Toms each had a 66 and finished another stroke back.

Woods said he would need another solid round to protect his five-stroke lead. He played like it, too, making three birdies on his first five holes to keep everyone at bay.

The critical shot was his approach into the par-5 10th to 15 feet for eagle that allowed him to keep his distance until Goosen's late heroics.

The $1 million payoff increased Woods' earnings on the PGA Tour to nearly $6.5 million and virtually assured him of another money title.

Goosen, meanwhile, moved about $12,000 ahead of Ernie Els on the European tour's Order of Merit.



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