by Aaron "1-iron" Garry - 07/27/2005
As "1-iron's" No. 9 pick Ben Crane lined up his drive on his final hole of the U.S. Bank Greater Milwaukee Open, I decided to take a chance. I threw in my DVD of "The Godfather" with the hopes that in three hours, I would be watching Crane finish out the very same hole as the 2005 tournament champion. Well, I missed the mark by just a hair. I finished "The Godfather" flipped back to CBS for the tournament, and there was Crane - still waggling away and getting ready to hit his shot. That's a minor exaggeration, but it illustrates my point. Ben Crane is too slow.
I realize he's a tremendous guy and that he has many friends out on Tour. I realize that his game is rounding into form, and that any slight change to his routine may result in less then desirable results. I realize that he's fighting back problems and playing the best golf of his life. However, he's still too damn slow. The PGA Tour has to step in and do something. My guess is that CBS lost the equivalent of a small island nation when most of their viewers shut the telecast off out of pure frustration with Crane. While this all became an issue because of Rory Sabbatini's antics at the Booz Allen, I think a lot of people have begun to question just how wrong Rory was when he blew his stack at Crane. Did Sabby handle it correctly? No. Were his intentions pure and accurate? Absolutely. Crane knows this is a problem, and while acknowledgement is the first step, he's got to take action to fix this. This writer cannot watch another telecast where his slow play is prominently involved. I just can't do it.
As far as the actual scoring goes, Crane won the tournament by four, while Scott Verplank protected a solo second place finish. "1-iron" was happy to see Verplank play well, as he's a good friend of the column. However, "1-iron" becomes ever more frustrated with this bologna President's Cup event, and Verplank's supposed "drive to make the President's Cup team." Don't ever expect a column on the President's Cup because "1-iron" does NOT acknowledge its presence in the golf world. It's a made for TV sham, that takes away everything that's pure about the Ryder Cup. USA v. The World is an absolute joke, and "1-iron" will never tune in for this. It doesn't matter if Jack Nicklaus or Jack White is the Captain. Frankly, I'd watch Oakwood Country Club play Hillcrest Country Club in a Ryder Cup style event before I'd watch that piece of garbage they call the President's Cup.
Also, as far as the Battle of the Bridges goes, "1-iron" really enjoyed it this year. Not as much banter as in years past, but still a quality production. The Mickelson-Goosen pairing was beyond uncomfortable to watch. When Phil asked Retief "when's the best time to leave when you fly to Europe?" - Goosen looked at him like "You have got to be kidding me, are you really that dense?" Classic. The entire time, Goosen looked bored, Mickelson filled his role as "Club member that invited us out to play, but we'd really like him to quit after nine," Tiger looks like he has no use for these kinds of events anymore, and Daly clearly doesn't care about anything but Hooters and his next Parliament. Ironically, this was a great combination for TV. The story on Daly and the College money was extremely moving. "1-iron" gives a formal commendation to Long John for that.
The Tour returns to the Greater Day-Twah area (Detroit for the layman's) for the 2005 edition of the Buick Open. As spokesperson for Buick, Tiger Woods has committed to play in this event the past few years, and he'll be back this year. Vijay Singh is the defending Champion this year after holding John Daly, Tiger, and Carlos Franco off last year. Devoted fans will remember the 2004 edition as the place where John Daly received an absolutely raucous ovation every time he stepped up to the tee in the final round. They'll also remember how Tiger fired 66 and only picked up a shot on Vijay as the Fijian shot 67 in the Final Round to close out the tournament. It bears mentioning that Daly had a putt to tie Singh on the final hole, but couldn't convert thus giving the Championship to Singh.
Vijay finished at 23 under par last year, so scores will be low even without the minor rainstorms that should soften Warwick Hills Country Club up for Thursday's opening round.
18 Shots -- 2005 Buick Open Odds and Picks
6 Who Will:
1. Tiger Woods (2/1): How can I not? The guy is swinging it so well right now. The only cause for concern is the scheduling of the Buick. Tiger puts everything he's got into these majors, and when they are over, it takes some time for him to unwind and get back to form. This week shouldn't be any different. There's no way a betting man would bet against Tiger this week, however don't be surprised with similar results as last year. This is a long golf course, and it's going to favor the longer hitters. Only Scott Hend is longer on Tour, and he won't be a factor. T is also the 2002 Champion, so he's been there before, plus he closed with 66 last year.
2. Vijay Singh (13/2): The 1997 and 2004 Champion returns on the heels of another Top 10 Major Championship performance. While Woods is winning majors, Vijay has strung together a nice T5, T6, T5 in the year's three majors thus far. Vijay has an astounding 18 Top 25's and 12 Top 10's. Lord. He comes to play every time he puts the ball in the air.
3. Billy Mayfair (30/1): Owns the course record of 61 at Warwick Hills when he won the event in 1998. Finished T43 last year, but missed the cut in 2003. He's playing this year on a one-time "Top 50 Career Money Leaders" exemption and is making the most of it. He's 16th on the money list and will get his card for 2006. Six Top 10's and 9 Top 25's this year and has only missed one cut.
4. Chris Dimarco (25/1): Such an enigma outside of Augusta. It would be great to see him win this week, and he's got the track record to pull it off. Currently 9th on the Money List and went "Eyeball to Eyeball" with Tiger in the famous Augusta playoff this year. Has four Top 10's this year, and finished T2 in 2001 and 2003 in this event.
5. Jim Furyk (12/1): Winner of the Cialis Western Open played extremely poorly at the British Open. Well, it's back on American soil this week for Jimbo and that should pay dividends. Before St. Andrews, he was playing as well as anyone, after the meltdown there I don't think anyone is going to worry. Finished T6 at Warwick last year, and was the 2003 Champion. eight Top 10's this year.
6. Geoff Ogilvy (25/1): Maybe an odd pick, but the 2003 Buick Open runner-up will get the job done this week. "1-iron" is an honorary Aussie, and us Aussie's gotta stick together. Ogilvy quietly finished T5 at the British Open (bet you didn't realize that....), and won the Chrysler Classic in Tucson way back in February. Finished T18 last year and has three Top 10's this year.
6 Who Can:
7. Sean O'Hair (40/1): Won the John Deere Classic, scrambled for a Passport, and then played lights out at St. Andrews. Does this kid have potential or what? "1-iron" is a little miffed he pulled out on us last week in Milwaukee, but we understand the circumstances. He's getting better and better each week, and nothing would please "1-iron" more then an O'Hair/Woods pairing on Sunday. Also was runner up at the Nelson and ranks 17th on the PGA Tour Money List.
8. Briny Baird (100/1): After opening with 67 last year, Briny missed the cut on Friday. In 2003 he tied for second, and after last week's T14, Briny is coming to Detroit with some renewed confidence in his game. He's got one Top 10 this year, but a smattering of missed cuts. This may be the week he shakes things up for the big boys.
9. Tom Pernice Jr. (75/1): The Pride of Wolf Creek Golf Links in Olathe, Kansas. As a college Sophomore, "1-iron" used to watch Pernice hit balls on the range and always knew he had wicked talent. T43 last year at the Buick, T24 in 2003, and T22 in 2002. He's on of Vijay's best friends and he's not afraid to call Tiger's equipment out. TP has five Top 25's this year, and we've got our eye on him.
10. Daniel Chopra (Field 7/2): "Lamb" Chopra was playing out of Sweden last week. Week to week, you just never know which nation he's going to represent. Sweden, maybe. India, maybe. Australia, maybe. The U.S., maybe. "Chops" is all over the board, but he's a friend of the column no less. We love what he's servin' up this week as he rolls in fresh off a nice T29 finish in Milwaukee last week. "Chops" or "Lamb" finished T8 last year, and endeared himself to the "1-iron." Here's a Kingfisher to hopin' he pulls this one out.
11. Glen Day (Field 7/2): Glen "All" Day is cut from the Ben Crane cloth. Another slow, methodical player who will drive viewers away faster then an Ohio State Buckeye taking cash from a booster. Finished T24 last year and finished T9 last week in Milwaukee. Has a favorable Tee Time on Thursday, which should help his cause - or at least get him off the course faster.
12. Ryan Palmer (Field 7/2): Plays with Tiger Woods on Friday and we may just see the "Palmer Fest" we've been waiting for. Missed cut last year at Warwick, but that was before his breakthrough victory at the Funai Walt Disney World Classic. Now "Palmer Fest" can begin. Coming in playing great golf with a T2 at the B.C. Open two weeks ago.
6 Who Won't:
13. Vaughn Taylor (Field 7/2): The Vodka Tonic has been a little weak the past couple events. Missed Cut at Milwaukee and has never played with the Big Boys at the Buick. Two Top 10's this year, but nine missed cuts and two Withdrawals. This is a recipe for disaster.
14. Len Mattiace (Field 7/2): Missed his last three cuts in a row, and has 15 of those bad boys on the year. Two-Time tournament winner in 2002, but this is 2005 and the situation is dire for the former World Putting Champion.
15. Hank Kuehne (100/1): He may be long, but if he's wrong this week, watch out. Twelve missed cuts this year, but a T2 at the John Deere leaves us scratching our heads. Does he have the potential? Yes. Has he put it all together yet? Heck no. T23 in 2004 and T18 in 2003 so he understand Buick golf, the inconsistency is too strong to ignore though.
16. Rod Pampling (75/1): Don't confuse him for Pamplona where they run the bulls every summer, made famous by Earnest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." Pampling had a great start to 2005, but has since faded. Four Top 10's this year, including a T5 at the Masters. However he missed the cut at the US Open, and finished T78 at the British. Not exactly the stuff of legends.
17. Mark O'Meara (150/1): The 2002 Runner-Up has always played well at this tournament. Even last year, he threw a T10 at us. However, he's a year older and he hasn't played much this year. He also hasn't won on the PGA Tour since his magical 1998 season when he captured both the Masters and the British Open. Seven Missed Cuts this year, and not a finish higher then T27.
18. John Daly (30/1): Coming off a T3 and a 36 hole Sunday in the European Players Championship in Germany, Long John looked absolutely exhausted on Monday night at the Battle of the Bridges. His swing looked tired, and it appears he may struggle with the heat of the Midwest. Has four Top 25's this year, but looks weary after two weeks overseas.
Fantasy Salary Cap Value Pick: Matt Davidson
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All odds are approximate. Updated 2005 Buick Open odds at Bodog.