Woods’ fatherhood improves Furyk’s chances
Vail, CO Colorado
GRAND BLANC, Mich. ” Jim Furyk’s chances of making nearly $900,000 at the Buick Open increased when Tiger Woods became a father.
His opportunity to cash in also improved because Vijay Singh is not at Warwick Hills ” like Woods, for the first time since 2001 ” out with an elbow injury.
“I don’t think anyone really looks at it in that manner,” Furyk said. “I’ve never looked at if it’s a strong field or a weak field. Never have I shown up at an event and looked down the list to see who is here and who is not.
“Obviously with Tiger and Elin having the baby last week, it was pretty apparent he wouldn’t be at this event. I know Buick will miss him, but he’s played in this event a lot and he’ll be back here a lot in the future.”
Woods and Singh played in each of the past five Buick Opens, with Woods winning last year and in 2002 and Singh finishing first in 2004 and 2005.
Furyk was the only player to stunt their dominance, winning it four years ago, at one of his favorite courses. Since he began playing a full schedule on the PGA Tour in 1994, Furyk missed the Buick Open only in 1998.
He was second last year, three shots behind Woods, and has finished among the top 10 in six straight Buick Opens to help make more than $2 million and trail just Woods and Singh on the tournament’s money list.
Entering Thursday’s first round, Furyk has been under par in 33 straight rounds going back to 1997.
“If you get the ball in the fairway, it’s not a very long golf course and you’re going to have a lot of short irons in your hand,” Furyk said. “Those two things, when I’m playing well, are the strengths of my game.
“I’m going to show up and play the golf courses where I feel I have the best chances, and this would be one of them.”
The Buick Open lacks superstars without Woods and Singh, and tournament officials are not the only ones wishing they were about 60 miles north of Detroit this week.
“To be honest, I would rather have them in the field because it adds more to the tournament,” Trevor Immelman said. “That way, you also know if you manage to win the tournament, you’ve beaten the best field in golf.”
John Daly perhaps gives the tournament its only chance to generate a buzz among casual fans and it’s tough to count on that because he is 176th on the money list with only one top 25 finish this year.
Charles Howell III (No. 6) and Furyk (No. 8) are the only players among the top 10 on the money list, and Furyk (No. 3) and Immelman (No. 17) are the only ones on the world golf ranking’s top 20 list.
The Travelers Championship last week also had a lackluster field, but produced a compelling finish with Hunter Mahan making a birdie putt on the final hole of regulation and beating Jay Williamson on the first extra hole.
“Every tournament wants Tiger Woods and unlike many tournaments, we’ve been lucky to have him here the last five years,” Buick Open tournament director Mike Mattucci said. “He had a child and wants to spend time with his family, which is very understandable and we totally respect his decision.
“There are still 156 great golfers in the field and with low scores, people are going to be entertained and there might be some stories that come out of this week that are new and fresh.”
Warwick Hills is usually one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour. It’s relatively short (nearly 100 yards below the average) and players rave about the perfect greens. Woods and Singh won the past two Buick Opens at 24-under 264.
Heavy rain, which interrupted Wednesday’s pro-am, softened the course that will allow players to shoot right at pins even more than usual.
“The greens couldn’t be any softer,” Furyk said. “I can stop a 5 iron out there in a foot. This rain is pretty much ensuring it will be that way for the rest of the week.”