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Newz Forum: GOLF: Surging Els, Singh, Mickelson headline Buick Classic

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posted on Jun, 9 2004 @ 04:18 PM
HARRISON, New York (AP) - Tiger Woods is taking a week off before the U.S. Open. But that will not be the case for Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. In fact, Woods is the only one among the top 10 money winners not at the Westchester Country Club's West Course for the $5.25 million Buick Classic, which begins Thursday.

This will be the fifth straight tournament for Els, including two events in Europe, leading up to the U.S. Open at Shinnecock next week.

"I still have a couple of things I have to work on in my game," Els said. "But all in all, my confidence is where is should be, especially going into an important tournament like this and a major next week. I just have to keep working."

With his four-shot win at the Memorial last Sunday, Els moved past Singh and into second place in the world golf rankings.

"It's nice to see your name as No. 2 again," said the 34-year-old South African. "I've got a long way to get to No. 1. But I don't want to think about it too much. I want to chase majors more than I want to be No. 1."

Woods has been at the top since August of 1999 - a span of 252 weeks.

"I've been playing consistently well for three years now, but Tiger's record speaks for itself, eight majors," Els said.

A two-time champion here in 1996 and 1997, Els has finished in the top-10 in seven of the last 11 majors and was second to Mickelson at the Masters two months ago. Singh, another two-time winner here in 1993 and 1995, ended Woods' reign at the top of the money list last year and is back on top this season with three victories. However, he tied for 15th at the Volvo PGA Championship - the European Tour's flagship event two weeks ago - and was tied for 24th at the Memorial.

Davis Love III is fourth in the world rankings followed by Phil Mickelson. Love has five top-10 finishes in his 10 events this year, but has finished no better than 14th here. Jonathan Kaye earned his first PGA Tour win at this event last year, defeating John Rollins with an eagle on the first playoff hole. He added his second career win earlier this season at the FBR Open, but has missed the cut five times, including each of the last two weeks. Kaye leads the Tour in total driving, a skill coveted at this course.

The par-71 course is a 6,751-yard layout. First prize is $945,000.

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