Garcia Singh Set for Westchester Duel

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Fresh off the USGA's staging of the U.S. Open, the PGA Tour reconvenes at fabled Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y., for the newly named Barclays Classic.
 
Formerly the Buick Classic, the event has been played on a rotating basis around the U.S. Open since 1994. In the odd-numbered years it is contested after the Open; before it in even-numbered years.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh has won twice at Westchester although his last victory came all the way back in 1995.
Due to it's scheduling after this year's Open, only four of the world's top-10 players are set to tee it up for the $5,750,000 purse.
 
Headlining the field is defending champion Sergio Garcia and world No. 2 Vijay Singh. Both players are two-time winners of this event, with Garcia's titles coming last year and back in 2001. Garcia's win last year came in a three-man playoff with Padraig Harrington and Rory Sabbatini.
 
Singh, whose win in 1993 was his first on the PGA Tour, also had to go extra holes in both of his wins.
 
In fact, a playoff in this event is becoming common place, as in seven out of the last 12 years the tournament has gone into an extra session, including the last two.
 
Two players hoping to grab some headlines this week are newly turned professionals Ryan Moore and his former college rival Spencer Levin. Moore, who is the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, made the cut at last week's Open and accepted a sponsors exemption into this his first event as a pro. Levin meanwhile, turned pro just days prior to the U.S. Open but failed to make the cut.
 
Most notably absent from the 2005 edition of the tournament is world No. 3 Ernie Els, who has held a spot in the field in 10 of the last 11 years and is the only back-to-back winner in the events illustrious history.
 
Played at Westchester Country Club since its inception in 1967, other two-time winners of the tournament include Jack Nicklaus, who won the inaugural event in 1967, Seve Ballesteros (83 and 88), Garcia and Singh.
 
Five for the Title
 
Vijay Singh
Despite a decent outing at Pinehurst where he finished in a tie for sixth, the golf-aholic will be back in the saddle looking for a chance to make another run at the No. 1 ranking held by Tiger Woods as well as pad his lead on the tour's money list. Though he's 10 years removed from his last victory here, Singh's overall game since that last win in 1995 is vastly improved. Currently ranked second on the PGA Tour's all-around ranking, Singh leads the tour in greens hit in regulation and total birdies.
 
Sergio Garcia
A victory at the Booz Allen just prior to the U.S. Open raised the Spaniards PGA Tour win total to six and he has a sensational record at Westchester to boot. In his last five trips to the Barclays Classic, Garcia has finished third, first, 12th, fourth and first again. Another victory here would make him the first three-time winner of the event.
 
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia looks to become the first three-time winner at Westchester.
Kenny Perry
Although Perry missed the cut here in three of the first five times he played in the event, he had a solid tie for ninth last year. Already with wins at Bay Hill and the Bank of America Colonial, Perry leads the tour in ball striking and is fifth on the money list.
 
Jim Furyk
After battling through a wrist injury much of last year, Furyk is definitely back on his game this year with six top-10s to his name including a pair of runner-up finishes at the MCI Heritage and the Wachovia Championship. Though never visiting the winner's circle here at Westchester, Furyk has placed inside the top-10 three times in his last seven starts, including a playoff loss back in 1998.
 
Chris DiMarco
A lackluster record in this event, the world's seventh ranked player stayed away for five years after missing the cut in his first four attempts. Last year though, the former University of Florida player found his groove and placed 9th in this event. A short hitter by tour standards, DiMarco will get a shot at one of the shortest courses they'll play all year at Westchester, which plays to just 6,751 yards.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more players to keep an eye on
 
*Jonathan Kaye, who won his first-ever PGA Tour title here in 2003. Kaye didn't fare well though in his title defense last year, finishing second to last of those who made the cut. He is, however, ranked 36th on the tour's money list.
 
*Justin Leonard, who is one of five players with multiple wins thus far in 2005. Like DiMarco, Leonard is another short hitter whose game shapes up well for Westchester. His recent win bodes well for the Texan, who has moved up to 19th in the world rankings.
 
*Fred Couples, who is coming off a 15th place finish at the U.S. Open. Couples, a fan favorite wherever he goes, has had the crowds cheering once again, especially with his strong performance at the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, where he finished second to Bart Bryant.
 
*Ryan Moore, who had one of the most successful seasons in amateur golf history last year. In his first event as a professional, Moore will have to try and live up to the hype he created as an amateur while winning the U.S. Amateur, NCAA, U.S. Amateur Public Links and Western Amateur last year.

Related links:
  • Full Coverage - Barclays Classic