Woods Considered Beatable at Buick

By Associated PressJuly 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
GRAND BLANC, Mich. -- When Tiger Woods used to show up at a golf tournament, he was considered the player to beat. Now, he's simply regarded as beatable.
 
'Until he gets on top of his game, and everybody realizes he's playing his best, players are just worrying about their own game,' Steve Flesch said Wednesday, a day before the start of the Buick Open. 'It's no secret that he's not playing as good as we all know he can.
 
'Everybody realizes now that he is beatable, more than he was four years ago. If he showed up, everybody knew he was the guy to beat.'
 
Despite the subtle shots some are taking at Woods and his game, he still is the top ranked golfer in the world.
 
In 13 tournaments this year, he has been in the top 10 nine times, including a victory five months ago and two third-place finishes.
 
Woods has won 40 PGA Tour events, including the 2002 Buick Open, since turning pro in 1996. He held all four majors at the same time and won eight major championships before he turned 27.
 
But he hasn't won a major since the 2002 U.S. Open and has failed to hold onto a 36-hole lead twice this year after winning tournaments in the same situation the previous five years.
 
And if Woods does not win the PGA Championship in two weeks at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, he will match his career-long streak without a major at 10.
 
Does the word 'slump' cross his mind?
 
'The only reason why I might think about it is someone just might say it,' he said.
 
Woods shrugs off the scrutiny he's receiving because frankly, he's used to it.
 
'Back in 2000 when I was winning a lot, I remember getting criticism for it. I was bad for the Tour because I was winning too much,' Woods said. 'Now, I'm not winning quite as much. So, there's always something.
 
'That's just part of being ranked No. 1. When you're on top, people are always going to criticize you and praise you. I don't have a problem with it, as long as it's fair.'
 
Jim Furyk is back at Warwick Hills, about 60 miles north of Detroit, to defend his Buick Open title. Vijay Singh, Stephen Ames, John Daly and Flesch, who is 12th on money list, also are in the 156-player field.
 
It will be Furyk's second competitive outing since surgery on his left wrist in March.
 
'My wrist is very healthy,' said Furyk, who proved it by shooting a 65 Wednesday in the pro-am.
 
Furyk won last year at 21-under 267 - two shots ahead of Woods and three others - about two months after winning the U.S. Open.
 
He will have a shot at being the tournament's first back-to-back winner since Tony Lema in 1964-65.
 
'I keep hearing that,' Furyk said with a grin.
 
He said the depth of the PGA Tour makes it difficult to repeat at any tournament, and the Buick Open is no exception because the course is relatively easy.
 
'There's a lot of 18 unders, 20 unders,' Furyk said. 'It's a shootout.'
 
Woods is second on the Buick Open's all-time money list, trailing only Furyk. Besides his tie for second last year and victory in 2002, he has finished tied for fourth, eighth and 11th in five appearances.
 
'I think coming to a golf course and a venue you have played well always brings a little bit of confidence,' he said. 'Especially, one that I've won before.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Buick Open
  • Full Coverage - Buick Open
     
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    Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

    By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

    By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”