The key to Warwick Hills will be shaping tee shots
Posted: Tuesday August 1, 2006 3:12PM; Updated: Tuesday August 1, 2006 4:08PM
The PGA Tour moves into Grand Blanc, Mich., at the Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club for the Buick Open, where in 2005 Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods staged a battle that will live for the ages. The two-man shoot out ended with Singh successfully defending his title and becoming the first three-time winner of the Buick. Singh rode a hot putter, leading the field that week with a career-best 28 birdies.
Warwick Hills is a 7,100-yard, par-72 course and was the 13th easiest on the PGA in 2005, averaging a stroke and a half under par. The key to scoring this week will be driving the ball in the fairway. Many of the holes at Warwick are short, but there will be a emphasis on driving accuracy. You might even see Woods stick with his driving accuracy game plan from The Open Championship by playing driver only once and relying on his long irons for precision off the tee.
Even though Woods finished second to Singh last year, he fired a second-round, course-record 61. That wasn't his first success at Warwick Hills. In seven starts he has never finished worst than 11, with two runner-up showings and a victory in 2002.
Coming off The Open victory two weeks ago at Hoylake, Woods has claimed the top spot on the 2006 money list for the first time this season. I look for him to continue his momentum and pick up another victory on his way to capturing player of the year, again.
With three tournaments to go, this week's Buick is key for those player's trying to earn a spot on to the Ryder Cup team. In 2005, Zach Johnson had a third place finish at The Buick. In order to stay in the Top 10 of the team standings, he will need another strong finish on a course that he has played well in the past.
Absent this week are sentimental Ryder Cup hopeful's Davis Love (13) and Fred Couples (14), two guys I would love to see on the team heading to The K Club in September.
Lesson Tee from The Buick
The tight driving holes of Warwick Hills will require the world's best players to shape their tee shots. This is one of those courses where they'll need to hit a left-to-right fade on one hole and a right-to-left draw on the next -- not an easy task.
The key to shaping your shots is to first use the entire width of the fairway to your advantage.
If you are going to play a left-to-right fade, be sure to align yourself up the left edge of the fairway so you have the entire width of the fairway to move the ball into. The next step is to swing the club along that path. It may seem scary to actually swing the club toward the trouble, but not if you produce spin on the ball that will move it toward your desired target.
How to spin the ball? Control the clubface angle through impact. Again, if you are playing a left-to-right fade, you open the clubface slightly and launch the ball along the left edge of the fairway.
Also, you can control spin through your grip, since the hands are the only part of the body that touches the club. When you place your hands on the grip, try to position both thumbs on top of the club so they match the bottom edge of the clubface. Technically, these hands are square to the clubface or slightly weak. This will help produce a slight fade spin.