Furyk and Company Ready for Buick Battle

By Sports NetworkJune 26, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- The Buick Open will be without its defending champion and top Buick sponsor, Tiger Woods.
Woods is skipping this event to remain at home with his wife and newborn child.
Last year when he won, Woods was coming off an emotional win at the British Open, his first win after the death of his father.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk has been a model of consistency at the Buick Open. (Wire Images)
Woods claimed his second title at this event last year as he carded four straight rounds of 6-under 66 to beat Jim Furyk by three strokes. His win came after Vijay Singh had won the last two titles at Warwick Hills.
It was the 50th win of Woods' career. Since then, Woods has raised his win victory total to 57.
Low scores are the norm at Warwick Hills as seven of the last eight winners have posted totals in the 260s (19 under or better).
Billy Mayfair established a PGA TOUR record here in 2001 for the best birdie-eagle streak in TOUR history. Mayfair went 9 under (B-E-B-B-B-B-B-B) en route to posting a 9-under 27 as part of his final-round 61.
The GOLF CHANNEL will broadcast three hours of action the first two days, while CBS has three hours of action the final two days.
Next up for the PGA TOUR is the inaugural AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, where Woods will serve as the tournament host.
With GOLFCHANNEL.coms Tour Trade 2 fantasy game underway, here are some of the players who have fared the best in recent years at the Buick Open.
Jim Furyk
Starts: 12
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 7
Best finish: Win (2003)
TRADE Talk: Furyk comes to Warwick Hills with a chip on his shoulder and the confidence of knowing he is the man to beat this week. Starting in 2001, Furyk has reeled off six straight top-10 finishes here counting his win in '03 and two runner-up showings, including last year.
Scott Verplank
Starts: 19
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 4
Best finish: Win (1988)
TRADE Talk: Verplank is quitely putting together one of the best season of his career, especially after his win at the Byron Nelson, an event he calls his fifth major. On the strength of that victory, Verplank has strung together three top-10s in his last three starts and comes into the Buick after a tie for fourth in 2006. He has won this event, but the victory came almost 20 years ago.
Kenny Perry
Starts: 14
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 2
Best finish: Win (2001)
TRADE Talk: Perry was in a downward spiral following arthroscopic knee surgery in March of last year, and his 2007 season was getting so bad he even had thoughts of early retirement. But a swing tip from Tommy Armour III at the Memorial has quickly righted the ship. He went on to a third-place finish at Jack's event and then came back with a tie for 15th at the Travelers. He has shown great consistency at Warwick Hills with six straight top-30s.
Sean OHair
Starts: 2
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 2
Best finish: T-4 (2006)
TRADE Talk: Perhaps best known this year for his meltdown on the 71st hole of THE PLAYERS Championship, it shouldn't hide the fact that he was playing phenomenal golf up until that point. He has twice played Warwick Hills and has twice finished in the top-10 -- last year joining Verplank in a tie for fourth.
Fred Funk
Starts: 16
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: T-2 (2002)
TRADE Talk: Like his percentage of fairways hit, Funk's dependability in this event is excellent. In 13 consecutive starts, Funk has placed inside the top-25 each time, including five top-10s. The now 51-year-old Funk, who earlier this year became fifth-oldest player to ever win on the PGA TOUR with his win at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, is coming off a solid fifth-place showing at the Travelers.
Four more to keep an eye on this week at Warwick Hills:
John Daly
His frightening year-to-date stats read like this: 12 starts with eight missed cuts or withdrawals and not a single top-20 finish. But Daly did finish second here in 2004 and is coming off his win at the World TELUS Skins Game in Canada.
Chris DiMarco
DiMarco had a pair of runner-ups at the Buick Open to start the century and has recently made an adjustment to his famous claw grip that he says has improved his putting and confidence.
Brett Wetterich
In what was turning into a very forgettable Travelers Championship, Wetterich turned in quite a Phil Mickelson-like final round that might bode well heading into this week: seven birdies, an eagle and four bogeys. That followed a third round that showed eight bogeys, a double and not a single birdie.
Steve Marino
Without much fanfare, the rookie Marino has put up impressive numbers thus far this season, currently ranking 64th on the PGA TOUR money list with six top-25s and three top-10s.
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

    Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.