Nope. Tournament officials like to set up Westchester, a fabulous old track in suburban New York with huge trees and steep hills, like an Open course. That means lots of rough and firm greens. Because the Buick Classic is a Mini-Me Open, it usually attracts a lot of good players looking to tune up for the real thing. "There's not a better course on Tour that we can play the week before the Open—it sets up so similarly," says Paulson.
The gusting winds and sizzling heat made Westchester's back nine delightfully wicked over the weekend. The 11th through 17th holes were a manly test of shotmaking. The top 10 finishers combined for a mere eight birdies on that seven-hole stretch on Sunday, and one of those birdies came with an asterisk. Duval pulled his drive into the trees at the 11th but got a break when his ball ricocheted back into the fairway, from where he knocked an iron shot close. The 12th hole, a nasty 476-yard par-4 that the members play as a par-5, yielded 12 birdies all week. As Waldorf says, " Westchester has a way of dealing out pain." He should know. He had a one-shot lead after 54 holes but was hurtin' on Sunday, when he shot 76 to also come in 13th.
If Westchester is so good at re-creating Open conditions, why don't they just go ahead and hold one there?
At 6,722 yards, the course is too short. Chris Perry says that by his count Westchester calls for up to 15 shots of 150 yards or less. There are two drivable par-4s as well as a par-3 of only 133 yards. Besides, the USGA has too many other options in the New York area. The Open has already been held at Shinnecock Hills and Winged Foot, and will be played at Bethpage Black, out on Long Island, in 2002.
Who do you like this week, Answer Man?
I love Pebble Beach. The Open is the one week the course always wins.