|Buick Invitational - February 02, 2009
Torrey Pines Golf Course (South)
La Jolla, CA
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,568
Torrey Pines Golf Course (North)
La Jolla, CA
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 6,915
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 500
Purse: $5,300,000Winner: $954,000
2008 Champion: Tiger Woods (269, -19)
Strong Field Descends on Torrey Pines
for Buick Invitational
Tiger Woods, the Buick Invitational’s four-time defending champion who has six championship trophies in his collection, will miss the Buick Invitational this week for the first time since 1997. Woods is still sidelined following June 2008 knee surgery, leaving the tournament wide open with no clear favorite.
Woods, who won twice at Torrey Pines Golf Course a year ago—also taking the U.S. Open title at the public facility’s South Course—has had exactly one over-par round in the 43 rounds he’s played (a second-round 77 in 2002) and registered 38 total under-par rounds. A year ago, Woods defeated Ryuji Imada by eight strokes, the largest winning margin in tournament history.
Phil Mickelson, who lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe, is a three-time winner of this event (1993, 2000 and 2001), and 2008 PGA TOUR Player of the Year Padraig Harrington is making his inaugural appearance in the event.
Two others who bear watching are Luke Donald and Charles Howell III, who have both had a pair of runner-up finishes in this event. Donald was part of a three-man playoff in 2004 that John Daly eventually won, and Donald tied for second again a year later. Howell tied with Donald in 2005 and finished second in 2007. Even without victories, both players have passed the $1-million mark in career earnings at the La Jolla, CA, event. Howell has pocketed $1,173,980, while Donald has earned $1,003,527.
Buick Invitational Notes
Local resident Phil Mickelson will be making his 19th consecutive appearance at the Buick Invitational. Mickelson has finished in the top 10 in exactly half of his appearances during that time, including victories in 1993, 2000 and 2001. Mickelson is one of four players (Vijay Singh, K.J. Choi and Sergio Garcia) to finish in the top 10 in the final rankings in the first two years of the FedExCup.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who fired a final-round 65 to win the Africa Open at East London Golf Club in South Africa earlier this year, is making his first PGA TOUR start of 2009 when he tees it up at the Buick Invitational. Goosen, who is 41st in the Official World Golf Ranking, has also played three tournaments on the European Tour, with his best performance a tie for sixth at the South African Open Championship.
Winning at Torrey Pines is a good thing if you like winning major championships. Every winner of the Buick Invitational since 1996 has also won at least one major championship. Tiger Woods, with 13 majors, has won six times, including the last four Buick Invitationals in succession, but the list also includes John Daly (1991 PGA Championship, 1995 British Open), Jose Maria Olazabal (1994, 1999 Masters), Phil Mickelson (2005 PGA Championship, 2004 and 2006 Masters), Scott Simpson (1987 U.S. Open), Mark O’Meara (1998 Masters, 1998 British Open) and Davis Love III (1997 PGA Championship).
Jose Maria Olazabal is the only international player to capture the Buick Invitational title in recent years. The Spaniard won by a stroke in 2002, becoming the first non-American to win since Gary Player’s victory in 1963. However, many international players have finished in second place, including Japan’s Ryuji Imada (2008) and Shigeki Maruyama (2000). Others to finish as recent runners-up include Australians Steve Elkington (1989) and Nathan Green (2006), Olazabal (2006), England’s Luke Donald (2004-05) and Sweden’s Carl Pettersson (2003) and Jesper Parnevik (1997). Parnevik was one of seven players to tie for second-place in 1997.
A year ago, Stuart Appleby was one of 10 players to record six consecutive birdies in one round. Appleby's feat happened at the Buick Invitational on the back nine of the North Course in the first round, Appleby birdied holes 14 through 1 on his way to a 67. He went on to tie for eighth.
Parker McLachlin is the last player to record a hole-in-one at the Buick Invitational. McLachlin had his ace on the third hole of the South Course in the first round of the 2007 tournament.