2008 Buick Invitational, Torrey Pines Golf Club, San Diego , CA Jan. 24-27, Golf Channel/CBS
by Matt of Predictem.com
The PGA hits sunny San Diego this week for the 2008 edition of the Buick Invitational. The tournament will be contested on both the North and South Courses of Torrey Pines with each player logging a round on each prior to the cut with the weekend played entirely on the South. Both tracks play par-72, with the North playing much shorter at 6,874 yards than the South at 7,569. Players will be taking notes on the South Course as well, as it hosts the U.S. Open later this year. $5.2 million is up for grabs, $936,000 to the winner this week with the Golf Channel providing early round coverage and CBS televising the weekend.
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Tiger Woods will tee it up for the first time in 08 this week and is three time defending champion of this event. Woods will certainly be the favorite as he has won here 5 times and never had a finish outside the top-10, in ten tries. The golf sportsbooks obviously like Woods here as well, installing him at an 11/10 favorite for the outright win.
World number two, Phil Mickelson was also scheduled to take his first swings of the year as well, but his status for the event remains in question as Lefty is battling respiratory issues. Doctors have advised Phil to get bed rest and currently remains the equivalent of a game time decision. If Mickelson can go, he would be a good pick to stop a potential Tiger four-peat. Phil has hoisted the trophy three previous times here and is very familiar with Torrey Pines as a Californian. Mickelson has also won his first Tour event four times throughout his career. When Tiger is in the field, the odds get longer for everyone else, and Phil is currently on the board at 16/1, a pretty good potential return for a second favorite.
Many of the top players are here this week, gaining experience for Junes U.S. Open if nothing else. World number four Jim Furyk is entered this week for the first time since 2001. Furyk has two missed cuts in his two previous appearances here, but is next on the board at 20 to 1.
Seventeen of the top-20 in the FedEx Cup points list are here, including current leader and Sony Open winner K.J. Choi. K.J is up to no.9 in the current Official World Golf Rankings and is right behind Furyk at 22 to 1 to take the trophy.
Other notables in the field are D.J. Trahan, last weeks Hope winner, getting 100 to 1 odds to make it two in a row and Justin Leonard, Hope runner-up at 50 to 1 to get the win this week. Rory Sabbatini and Vijay Singh round out the list of contenders at 25 to 1 and 33 to 1 respectively.
A sleeper pick at 66 to 1 is Robert Allenby. He is coming off a t-12 at the Hope Chrysler Classic and was hot in last years West Coast tournaments. Deeper still at 80 to 1 sits Jerry Kelly. Kelly is another who has typical early season success and has a top-15 under his belt at the Sony this year.
A couple of matches to look this week are Vijay Singh v. Aaron Baddeley and Tim Clark matched versus Stewart Cink. Singh has the edge in his match, both he and Baddeley were t-12 at the Mercedes, but Badds followed with a MC at the Sony while Singh took a break and undoubtedly worked the range. Singh has made 4 of 5 cuts here and though he has only one top-20 finish, that probably points to him being due versus anything else. Baddeley made the cut in his last Buick on 06 but was not a factor finishing 79th.
In the other match, Cink looks to have the edge over Clark. Cink is coming off a consistent if unspectacular effort at last weeks event, a 15-under par 26th place finish at the Hope, his first stop of the year. He had a solid tournament here in 07; finishing 14th and his game should be rounding into shape. Tim Clark is capable, but is teeing it up for the first time on the PGA Tour this year and Im often skeptical of the Euro Tours guys making their first U.S. whacks. Clark did post a t-10 finish here in 06 but has a missed cut in 04 as well.
For the win (I wont pick Tigertoo easy)
Short Favorite Jim Furyk 20 to 1
Best of the Rest/Has a Shot Brandt Snedeker 40 to 1
Longshot Jerry Kelly 80 to 1
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