Mr Major Comes Calling to Buick

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Jim Furyk starts his reign as a major champion this week in the $5 million Buick Classic.
 
The U.S. Open champion is just one of several top-ranked players on hand at the 6,722-yard, par-71 Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y.
 
The list includes Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, David Toms and Retief Goosen. In all, six of the top 11 players in the world are scheduled to be in attendance.
 
Woods obviously takes his job as corporate spokesperson very seriously. Hes won two of the three Buick-sponsored events ' the Buick Inviatational (1999) and Buick Open (2002). The lone exception is this tournament.
 
Tiger missed the cut as an 18-year-old amateur in 1994. He tied for 43rd in 1997, and tied for 16th in 2001.
 
'It's tough,' Woods said of playing the week after a major. 'Physically, you're fine but emotionally a little tired.
 
Two years ago was the last time this event was contested the week after the U.S. Open. Last year, it was the precursor to the seasons second major. Chris Smith proved the worthy victor, earning his maiden PGA Tour title.
 
Smith added his name to an unusual mix of Westchester winners. It seems that only established champions and first-timers are allowed to win.
 
Smith, Dennis Paulson (2000) and J.P. Hayes (1998) all claimed their first tour trophy in this event. Meanwhile, the likes of Singh (1993, 95), Lee Janzen (1994), Els (1996, 97) and Sergio Garcia (2001) have also prevailed in the last decade.
 
Singhs 93 victory was also his first on tour.
 
Furyk would love to follow in the footsteps of Els, whose successful title defense came the week following his second coronation as U.S. Open champion. In addition to his two titles, Els has never missed the cut in seven prior starts.
 
Furyk has had some good results in this event, and is at least a good bet to make his 12th top-10 finish on tour this season. He lost to Hayes in a playoff in 1998. He also tied for third in '97 and tied for ninth a year ago.
 
Last year, Smith took home a tidy sum of $630,000. This years champion will pocket $900,000.
 
Related Links:
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full Coverage of the Buick Classic