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.
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
  • Getty Images

    G-Mac has Ryder Cup on mind with Genesis in grasp

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 2:12 am

    LOS ANGELES – Graeme McDowell is four years removed from his last start in a Ryder Cup and golf is more than seven months away from this year’s matches, but then it’s never too early to start daydreaming.

    Following a third-round 70 that left him tied for third place and just two strokes off the lead at the Genesis Open, McDowell was asked if the matches are on his mind.

    “I feel like I've got a lot of things to do between now and getting on that team,” he said. “Standing here right now it's probably not a realistic goal, but if I continue to play the way I'm playing for the next few months, it may start to become a realistic goal.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    McDowell began his week at Riviera Country Club fresh off four consecutive missed cuts and has drifted to 219th in the Official World Golf Ranking. But his play this week has been encouraging and the Northern Irishman has always relished the opportunity to play for Europe.

    “Deep down I know I'm good enough, but I've got to show, I've got to put some results on the board, I've got to take care of my business,” he said. “The greatest experience of my career bar none, and I would love to play another couple Ryder Cup matches before it's all said and done.”

    McDowell does have a potential advantage this year having won the French Open twice at Le Golf National, site of this year’s matches.

    Getty Images

    Bubba on McGrady block: 'Just trying not to get hurt'

    By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:56 am

    LOS ANGELES – A detour to the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game didn’t keep Bubba Watson from leading this week’s Genesis Open, although an on-court brush with Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady nearly derailed his chances for a third tournament win.

    Watson enters the final round at Riviera with a one-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay after firing a 6-under 65 in the third round. The day before, the southpaw left the course around lunch time and headed across town to participate in the All-Star festivities, where during the celebrity game he tried to score 1-on-1 over McGrady.

    Watson’s move into the lane went about as well as you’d expect given their five-inch height disparity, with McGrady easily blocking the ball into the stands. According to Watson, he had only one thought as McGrady came barreling towards him across the lane.

    “When I saw him, all I saw was, ‘This is my moment to get hurt,’” Watson said. “This big tank is about to hit me, and I was like, ‘Just knock it into the stands. Just don’t touch me.’ So it worked out, he didn’t touch me so it was good.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Watson’s attempt went against his wife Angie’s advice to avoid the paint area, but it provided a fun moment for a player used to carving up fairways and greens – not to mention the guy who played 15 seasons in the NBA.

    “Well, he’s got like just under 800 blocks for his career, so I gave him one more, you know?” Watson said. “It was just, it was a blast. I wanted to see how good he was, see if he could miss it. He hasn’t played in a while.”

    Watson took some heat on Twitter from his PGA Tour peers for the rejection, but few were still laughing as he rocketed up the leaderboard Saturday with five birdies and an eagle. Now he has a chance to win this event for the third time since 2014 – even if he doesn’t plan to go toe-to-toe with McGrady again anytime soon.

    “Some guys wanted to try to win MVP, so I was trying to pass it and let them have their fun and their moment,” Watson said. “I was just trying not to get hurt.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth on third-round 69: 'Putter saved me'

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:37 am

    LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth has spent the last few weeks talking about his putting for all the wrong reasons.

    Two weeks ago when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open he lost 3.76 shots to the field in strokes-gained putting, and last week he wasn’t much better.

    It looked like more of the same at the Genesis Open when he lost about a half stroke to the field on Day 1 with 29 putts, but since then his fortunes on the greens have gotten progressively better.

    “I thought each day last week I progressed,” said Spieth, who needed just 24 putts on Friday and moved into a tie for 20th after taking 26 putts on Day 3.

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    Spieth said he started to feel things turn around at Pebble Beach after working with his swing coach Cameron McCormick and Steve Stricker, who has become something of a putting sounding board for players on Tour.

    “I got set up really nice. I got really comfortable on the greens even though they were very difficult to putt last week and this week,” said Spieth, who rolled in a birdie putt of 14 feet at No. 12 and a par putt of 35 feet at No. 14. “Any putt, I either made it or I left it just short today. It was one of those days that with the way I struck the ball, it was an off day, but that putter saved me and allowed me to shoot the lowest score so far this week.”

    Spieth’s third-round 69 is his best of the week and moved him to within seven strokes of the lead, which is held by Bubba Watson.

    Getty Images

    Bouncing back: Watson seeks a third Riviera win

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2018, 1:25 am

    LOS ANGELES – Yeah, but can Tracy McGrady smoke a 7-iron from 203 yards to kick-in range for eagle on Riviera Country Club’s opening hole?

    The way Bubba Watson’s mind drifts there’s no telling if, as he began his day at the Genesis Open, he revisited his play from Friday night at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. If he did, it would have been an apropos conclusion after McGrady sent his weak floater into the cheap seats midway through the second quarter.

    Either way, Watson made it clear playtime was over on Saturday. The eagle at the opening par 4 ½ sent Watson on his way to a third-round 65 and the outright lead at the Left Coast event that’s starting to feel like a second home for the lefthander.

    In 11 starts at Riviera, Watson already has two victories. A third on Sunday could get folks talking about renaming the layout Bubba’s Alley. Or not.

    What is certain is that Watson has emerged from a funk that sent him tumbling outside the top 100 in the world ranking and he’s done it in quintessential Bubba style.

    If Friday’s detour to the celebrity game received worldwide attention it was only a snapshot of Watson’s Tinseltown itinerary. He taped a segment for Jay Leno’s Garage show, visited with Ellen DeGeneres and watched a taping of The Big Bang Theory. You know, L.A. stuff.

    Oh, and he’s curved and carved his way around Riviera with signature abandon.

    “You've got to hit shots from every different angle, you've got to move it right to left and left to right, so it's just fun,” said Watson, who also led by one stroke when he won here in 2016, his last victory on the PGA Tour. “Then the greens are the equalizer so it makes me look like I putt as good as the other guys.”

    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

    He “hammered” a 7-iron from 203 yards at the first to 1 ½ feet for his opening eagle, chipped in at the sixth to begin a run of four birdies in five holes and played the three par 5s in 3 under to move into a familiar spot after enduring his worst season on Tour in 2017 when he failed to advance past the second playoff event.

    That he’s turned the tide in Los Angeles is as predictable as it is peculiar. Despite Watson’s record at the Genesis Open, Riviera wouldn’t seem to be the tonic for all that ails Bubba.

    Ask a player - any player will do - the keys to playing Riviera and the answers range wildly from it being a bomber’s course to the need for ball-striking precision. But the word that comes up with regularity is "patience."

    “Patience and pretty much just not being stupid, to be honest,” Justin Thomas said when asked the key to his third-round 67 that left him tied for eighth place. “Just stop trying to hit at pins with 5-irons and 6-irons, and when I hit in the rough, realize just try to make a par. When I get in places, when I'm out of position, realize that sometimes even bogey is what I need to make.”

    While that thought dovetails with conventional wisdom, Watson’s not exactly known for his patience.

    “Oh, for sure I do. Haven't you seen me in the last 12 years?” Watson laughed when asked if he had patience on the course. “The tougher the golf course, the more focus I have. The tougher the shot, I've been able to focus better. When I get my mind on something, I can focus and do pretty well at the game of golf.”

    While Bubba drifts between artist and antagonist with ease, both on and off the golf course, his primary challenge on Sunday is the picture of thoughtful composure.

    Patrick Cantlay, who returned to the Tour last season after struggling with back issues for years, began the third round with a share of the lead but quickly faded on the front nine. He rallied on the closing loop with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 18, where he capped his day with a 54-footer that assured him a spot in Sunday’s final threesome. Although he’s just 25 and playing his first full season on Tour, Cantlay’s approach to the game is patently different from Watson’s.

    “I feel like if I can just engage and not worry about where I am on a particular hole or what's going on and I just engage and stay present in whatever I'm doing at that particular time, it all turns out better than what you would expect,” explained Cantlay, who attended nearby UCLA and played dozens of practice rounds at Riviera. “Making sure you stay present and having that confidence in yourself that if you just click in and focus, it all will be good and that's kind of the head space I'm in.”

    It will be a clash of wildly contrasting styles on Sunday – Watson, who admitted he “(doesn’t) focus very well,” and Cantlay, whose approach to the mental side of the game borders on the clinical.

    One player relishes the challenge of hyper-focus, the other is Bubba, but that’s not to say Watson is void of patience, only that he needs to be properly motivated.

    “Like last night when Tracy McGrady was coming at me, I was focused on not getting hurt and I didn't, so it worked out,” Watson smiled.

    And besides, T-Mac can’t bomb it like Bubba.