Whos Behind the Wheel

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 31, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick OpenAt the Cialis Western Open, Tiger Woods entered an event that was sandwiched between two major championships and everyone questioned his state of mind and the state of his game.
 
Four weeks later, Woods is back in action, playing in another tournament situated between a pair of majors. But this time no one is questioning anything in relation to Tigers mental or physical being.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is vying for his fourth PGA TOUR victory of the season.
He provided all the answers in his most recent performance.
 
Woods calculated and dominating victory at the Britisih Open left any doubt as to where he stands in the game today ' firmly at the top.
 
After missing the cut in the U.S. Open ' playing his first tournament in nine weeks due to the death of his father, Woods returned to action at the Western Open and promptly finished second. He then executed a perfect game plan to win at Royal Liverpool.
 
Having just claimed his third silver Claret Jug, Woods will try and win his third PGA Championship in two weeks. Before then, however, he will try and win his second Buick Open title.
 
Perhaps, he'll even use his driver a couple of times in doing so. He used the big stick only once over 72 holes in his triumph at Royal Liverpool.
 
Woods, who currently leads the PGA TOUR in wins (3) and earnings ($4,263,563), is hoping to add to both of those totals this week at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Mich.
 
Though he has won the Buick Open only once (2002), Tiger has an amazing record here. He has finished inside the top 10 six times in seven career starts. His worst finish is a tie for 11th, and he has notched a top-3 each of the last four years.
 
Those numbers, combined with his impressive performance at Hoylake, make Woods the clear favorite to win this week.
 
Here are five other players hoping to deny him:
 
Vijay Singh
While Tiger is the odds-on favorite to claim victory, Singh just happens to be the two-time defending champion. He won by a stroke over John Daly in 2004, and then won by four over Woods and Zach Johnson a year ago. He also prevailed in 1997, making him the only three-time winner of this tournament. So why isnt he the favorite? Because Singh missed the cut at the British, and he blew a 54-hole lead in his previous start at the Western. He has a few more question marks concerning his game than does Woods.
 
Chris DiMarco
Chris DiMarco is hoping to ride the wave of momentum he picked up at the Open Championship.
Chris DiMarco
Youve probably heard this one before: DiMarco has an inspirational tournament ' in which he doesnt win, but proves his grit ' and seems ready to finally win on TOUR for the first time in a long time. Well, here we go again. After giving Woods a run at Hoylake, DiMarco again seems primed to reel off his first win on TOUR since the 2002 Phoenix Open. He has played this tournament 10 times and has a pair of top-10s ' both runner-up finishes, of course (2001, 2003). He's healthy now, after injuring himself during a ski trip. Is this finally his time?
 
Jim Furyk
Heres a shocker: Furyk is a favorite in a summer-time event. In 11 career starts at Warwick Hills, Furyk has six top-10s, including a victory in 2003. He has only two finishes outside the top 20 and has never missed a cut. As for the current state of his game, the good news for Furyk is that he has finished inside the top 5 in each of his last three starts, which includes the U.S. Open and the British Open. The bad news is that he had a chance to win all of those tournaments and failed to do so.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
This will be only Ogilvys second start since winning the U.S. Open, and his first non-major tournament. Ogilvy took an extended break after triumphing at Winged Foot and didnt return to action until the Open Championship, where he tied for tied for 16th. The Aussie has a solid record at Warwick Hills. Over the last three years, he has finished runner-up in 2003, tied for 18th in 2004, and tied for 12th last year.
 
Dudley Hart
There arent many tournaments anymore where Hart can actually feel like a contender, but this is one of them ' if he can finish the event. Over the last six years, Hart, who will turn 48 on Friday, has finished fifth (2005), T4 (2001) and T6 (2000). He has also missed the cut (2004) and twice withdrawn after the first round (2002, 03).
 
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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.