2008 Buick Open Preview and Picks

Tournament: Buick Open
Date: Thursday June 26 Sunday June 29, 2008
Gold Course: Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club Grand Blanc, MI
Television: The Golf Channel/CBS

The PGA Tour stops in Michigan this week for the Buick Open. Warwick Hills G&CC in Grand Blanc serves as host for the Pros, who are playing for the winners share of $5 million dollars and the keys to a brand new Buick. Fed Ex Cup points are also on the line as players jockey for position as the playoffs near and the Ryder Cup hopefuls look to heat up along with the temperatures. Many of the top pros are sitting this week out including Tiger, of course, who is shelved for the remainder of the 08 season. Jim Furyk is the top-ranked player in this field and looks to continue his superb play at Warwick Hills. Seasoned veterans Kenny Perry and Justin Leonard are also here and look to continue their solid seasons. Watch all the action with the Golf Channel carrying the early rounds and CBS picking up the weekend broadcast.

If you tuned into the Travelers Championship last weekend, you were treated to a birdie-fest at TPC River Highlands and this week should provide much of the same. Warwick Hills will play at par 72 and measure 7,127 yards for the week and has the possibility to give up very low scores, such as the current course record 61 that Billy Mayfair carded in 2001. Last years champ, Brian Bateman, won with a 15-under total and the top-20 and ties were all 10-under or better.

We usually preach accuracy in our previews, but this week is one where the bombers will have an advantage even if they are off line as Warwick Hills will give up birdies from the rough. If the longer players can avoid the tree lines and other hazards, they can take advantage of the par-5’s and the shortish par-4’s. Still, accuracy will play as the fairways are narrow and the greens are well bunkered. A look back at past results for the event find success for the ball-strikers like Leonard and Funk as well as long hitters like Woods and Daly.

Each week we make a pick from a short, middle and long odds look from one of the golf sportsbooks. We are looking for two ina row as we nailed Stewart Cink on the 14 to 1 at the Travelers. We will also breakdown a few matches and make some picks there as well. Odds and matches this week are courtesy of the book at Bodog.

Jim Furyk

10 to 1 to win and 15 to 8 to finish in the top-5 (including ties)

There is no other in the field this week with the Buick pedigree of Furyk. Along with a win here in ’03, Furyk has notched eight top-10 finishes in 13 career starts. He has never missed the weekend here and was T5 in last year’s event. Furyk scores here with his accuracy numbers, 24th in fairways and 36th in greens and those numbers should improve at a favorite track. A 13th rank in par-5 performance will help Furyk keep pace if the scores trend low. The only knock on Furyk would be his so-so play over the last month, but look for a breakout this week.

Kenny Perry

12 to 1 and 9 to 4

Perry continues his run to the Ryder Cup and will look to events like the Buick to take advantage of a less than strong field. Since the win at the Memorial, Perry has a T24 and T6 to show his good play has some staying power. Perry is 13th on Tour in total driving and 10th in greens hit, leading to a 7th best ball striking number. Add all that up and you will get the 6th best scoring average and a good look at a win here.


Justin Leonard

14 to 1 and 5 to 2

Leonard is another who is surging to a Ryder Cup berth with his stong season that has a win at the St. Jude’s and only one missed cut. Justin is the 7th ranked All Around golfer, on the strength a 5th ranked GIR% and a 10th ranked putter. Look for Leonard to keep the ball in play as usual and use his superior wedge game to score this week, as he did in his T2 in ’07.

Heath Slocum

22 to 1 and 7 to 2

Not many have been hotter than Heath over the last two weeks. Slocum came through with a T9 at the Open and followed that with a solo 4th at the Travelers. Slocum is accurate off the tee, ranking 9th in fairways and is in the top-40 in ball striking and greens in regulation. Look for Heath to stay on this good run, he is our mid range pick to win this week.

Brandt Snedeker

25 to 1 and 4 to 1

Brandt is another candidate to break out this week. Snedeker’s two best finishes have come in the Majors, a T3 at the Masters and a T9 at the U.S. Open. That type of talent can’t be held back from regular contention for long. Snedeker ranks inside the top-50 in greens and putting average as well as birdie and scoring average. Brandt finished T10 here last year.

Scott Verplank

28 to 1 and 9 to 2

Verplank is another who is heating up as the summer arrives, with a T8 at the St. Jude’s and a solid T29 at the Open. Scott is one of the best off the tee, ranking 6th in fairways hit and gets it done on the greens with a 13th best putting average. That mix leads to 3.5 birdies per 18, which will keep Scott close if the scores move low in a hurry. Going pretty deep on the stat sheet, Verplank averages 17.5 feet away on approaches under 150 yards, which is the best on Tour and he should see a lot of those shot on an average length course. Verplank had ’07 success here, with a T5 finish.

Nathan Green

66 to 1 and 12 to 1

Green is our longshot this week for one reason. Putting. Nathan is the Tour’s best in terms of putting average and is second in total putts per round. The flatstick makes up for a pedestrain tee to green game and nets a 20th ranked birdie average. Green is also 10th in total birides on the year, and chances are birdies will be needed in bunches this week.

For the Win:

Short: Jim Furyk – 10 to 1 – I can’t see picking any other here considering the track record.

Middle of the Road: Heath Slocum – 22 to 1 – Looking for the good play to continue and give Heath a chance on Sunday.

Longshot: Nathan Green – 66 to 1 – The putts have been falling, a little better on the rest of the game will give Green a look.

Matches (our pick):

(All matches are for the entire tournament)

Jim Furyk (-130) v. Kenny Perry (EVEN) (Perry)

How can you pick against the guy you are projecting as the outright winner? Perry is the next logical choice to win after Furyk and Perry has been hotter over the last month or so. The even money tips the scales here, if you take Perry here and Furyk pays on the other bet, you’ll forgive us.

Justin Leonard (-130) v. Heath Slocum (EVEN) (Slocum)

Here is another good look at even money, especially considering Slocum’s Open and Travelers finishes. We aren’t going against our pick to win multiple times this week, at least.

Rocco Mediate (-115) v. Nick O’Hern (-115) (O’Hern)

Mediate is fresh off the toe-to-toe Open versus Tiger, but that was a bright spot in a season that has 8 missed cuts in 19 starts. O’Hern has top-20’s in three of his last four and is top-15 in fairways and putting average. Mediate may finally be healthy and on track, but O’Hernis the pick this week.

Who do you like this weekend? Sack up and come talk about it in our Golf Handicapping Forum.

Good Luck!