The 2009 Buick Invitational Review
by Matt of Predictem.com
Weather is usually not an issue in San Diego, but rain and wind made life hard for the PGA pros at the Buick Invitational. Nick Watney battled the elements and the tough South Course at Torrey Pines to come out on top by one stroke over John Rollins. The win was Watney’s second in his PGA career with the first coming in 2007.
The conditions were among the toughest so far this year on Tour, but Watney managed to hit over 67% of greens in regulation and led the field in scrambling, which was a huge boost considering there were very few bogey-free rounds this week. Watney earned a nice $954,000 for the win and is now fully exempt for the remainder of the Tour schedule, including the Majors.
Camilo Villegas got off to a tremendous start by dropping a birdie on the first hole and then canning his approach on number two for an eagle. Another birdie on three had Villegas to 4-under very early at Torrey Pines North and the good play continued as the Colombian carded a 9-under 63 to take a three stroke lead.
Davis Love III and Aaron Baddeley were the two players three back at 6-under after rounds of 66 on the North Course. Stuart Appleby, Jeff Overton and Robert Garrigus were another two back at 4-under, also recorded at Torrey North.
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The low rounds of the day on the South Course were 3-under 69’s, put up by Matthew Goggin and Scott Sterling, leaving both in a tie for 7th and in good shape headed into Friday’s round at the North Course.
Phil Mickelson also had a solid start on the South, carding a 2-under round of 70 despite some errant shots off his new driver.
There was over a 3 stroke difference in scoring averages between the two courses, with the North at 71.7 and the South at 75.4.
Storms that were scheduled to hit the area on Friday moved tees forward on some holes to keep some competitive balance for the players switching courses on Thursday and Friday.
The leaderboard looked to bunch up with players switching venues from the day prior, but Camilo Villegas managed to stay ahead of everyone with a 2-under 70 on the South Course. Villegas stood at 11-under after two days, one ahead of John Rollins after he posted a 64 on the South which would stand as the tournament low round.
Charley Hoffman continued his good play, following up a 1-under start with a 6-under round on the North Course to get to 7-under and four back of the lead. Nick Watney and Paul Goydos finished another stroke back at 6-under total.
The scoring disparity between the courses continued, but some better rounds on the South narrowed the gap from over three strokes on Thursday to just over two on Friday.
The cut officially came at 2-over par, but with more than 80 players at 2-over or better, a second cut will come to narrow the field after Saturday’s round.
Scoring became even tougher for the field asthe wind and rain set in for much of the day, but players were allowed to lift, clean and place in the fairway during the round and tee boxes remained forward on many holes. Play is now exclusively on the Torrey Pines South Course for the remainder of the event.
36-hole leader, Camilo Villegas, struggled for the first time this week and relinquished the lead after a 2-over round of 74. John Rollins took the lead by three over Villegas after a 2-under 70 and now sits at 12-under total.
Nick Watney continued to stalk the leaders, carding a 1-under round to get to 7-under total and sole possession of third going into Sunday. Luke Donald and Paul Goydos stay on the fringe of contention, tied for fourth at 6-under.
Charles Warren made the big move on Sunday, firing the day’s low round of 68 and getting inside the top-ten at 5-under. 71 players now remain after a secondary removed 14 players.
Charley Hoffman was our longshot to win this week (50-1) and he was looking good until an errant tee shot on the first hole led to a triple bogey and really ended any hopes for a big payday. Hoffman did salvage a respectable round and went on to finish T& for the event.
The final round saw a strong finishing nine by Nick Watney on his way to a 4-under round and a one stroke win. Watney used 3 birdies on the inward nine to catch the 54-hole leader, John Rollins. Rollins stumbled to a 74 on Sunday to let Watney steal the win and no contending players could muster a charge to sneak into the picture.
Lucas Glover and Camilo Villegas tied for third, two strokes back at 9-under. Matt Jones equaled the tournament low with a final round 64 and notched a solo 5th place finish.
Other notable finishes include Aaron Baddeley, who led the field in putts per round and finished tied for 11th. Webb Simpson continued his solid rookie campaign with a T19 and reigning player of the year, Padraig Harrington, finished T24 in his first action in ’09.
Zach Johnson remains on top of the FedEx Points list with Watney moving to second after the win. Kenny Perry, Geoff Ogilvy and Pat Perez are all in the top-5 and John Rollins makes it into the top-10, up from 147th last week.
Kenny Perry is the Tour money leader thus far, with Johnson, Ogilvy and Watney joining him in the millionaires club for ’09. John Rollins moves to 9th on the money list after the runner-up, moving up 253 spots to 9th.
The Tour is on to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am this week, staring Thursday.