Woods Plays with an Eye on PGA Championship


2005 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Before Tiger Woods finds solitude and practices for the PGA championship, hell play at the Buick Open and rowdy crowds will root for him.
He said playing Warwick Hills this week'two weeks after the British Open and two weeks before the PGA championship'is a perfect way to prepare for his attempt to win a 12th major.
Other than length, the courses are pretty similar, Woods said before Thursdays first round. You have to shape shots on both courses, and the rough will be the same style.
Woods said he tries to win every tournament, refusing to believe any competition is a tuneup. Hell have plenty of elite competition here, with four of the top five on the money list in the field.
Vijay Singh is shooting to be the first to win three straight Buick Opens and four overall, but hed trade that feat for another major championship later this month.
Theres no comparison. Majors are a different kettle of fish, said Singh, who has won the past two tournaments at 24- and 23-under. Ask anybody who won this tournament three years ago, they wouldnt know. Ask anybody who won the British Open, they would know that.
Singh and Woods will be joined by Jim Furyk, U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, British Open runner-up Chris DiMarco and crowd favorite John Daly. Woods won the Buick Open in 2002 and Furyk did the next year.
Buick, one of Woods sponsors, announced it signed a four-year contract extension with Warwick Hills to keep the tournament here through 2010. It will end July 1 next year, placing it between the U.S. and British Opens, instead of early August.
Woods doesnt expect the change to alter his usual visit. Warwick Hills will never be considered his home course, but the familiar faces at the course 60 miles north of Detroit have grown on him since he made his first appearance in 1997.
Ive seen the same people on the same greens, said Woods, playing the Buick Open for the eighth time. Thats pretty neat because you dont see that at any other golf tournament. Maybe Augusta. To come here and see faces that you recognize, it makes it that much more special to play.
In contrast to crusty, brown Royal Liverpool, lush fairways and greens at Warwick Hills will welcome Woods and Co.
The players must consistently birdie the four par 5s and the par-4 12th and 14th'just 340 and 322 yards long, respectively'to have a shot at winning.
I think its always about the par 5s here, Woods said. When the wind is not blowing, then for me, I can get to every par 5. You can possibly drive 12 and possibly drive 14. Those six holes, youve got to make some birdies on those holes. Maybe trickle in an eagle here or there.
Singh said Warwick Hills will help him prepare for Medinah in suburban Chicago.
You have to drive the ball very straight here. Any major you play in, you need to drive the ball very straight, he said. This golf course, although you have a lot of birdie opportunities, if you dont drive it in the fairway youre not going to make too many birdies.
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