Kenny Perry favourite as top players rest
After two weeks of punishing competition at the U.S. PGA Championship and WGC Invitational, Tiger Woods and the rest of the world's top ranked players are taking time off ahead of the 11-event PGA Tour Fall Finish.
However, there will be no rest for those looking to secure spots on next year's Tour with this week's Buick Championship at the TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut providing a good chance to score ranking points and pick up some cash.
Kenny Perry, who was tied with Woods for the lead going into the final round of the WGC Invitational in Ohio last week, will be one of the favourites to win the $4.3 million event having moved up to number 10 in the world rankings.
A two-time winner this season at Bay Hill and the Colonial, Perry will be anxious to atone for his final round collapse that led to a fall from a two-shot lead after eight holes to finishing in a tie for sixth as Woods claimed a fifth title of the season.
At 17 and 18 respectively, South African Tim Clark and Briton Darren Clarke are the only other members of the world's top 20 to tee it up this week at the River Highlands.
The duo are part of a surprisingly strong international contingent who have stayed on in the U.S. rather than head to Germany for the BMW International in Munich this weekend.
Lee Westwood, who raised eyebrows with his third round seven-under 63 at the WGC, has also decided to stay on in Connecticut, while Peter Lonard will lead an Australian charge that also includes Robert Allenby and Steve Elkington.
Woody Austin ended a nine-year title drought with his playoff victory over Tim Herron 12 months ago and he is back to defend his crown, hoping a return to River Highlands might trigger a revival of form in a disappointing campaign so far.
"It's just been a bad year, just haven't played good," Austin said.
"Started out the year bad and it just hasn't gotten any better.
"I've only played one good round of golf, and that was the Sunday at New Orleans where I did finish fifth. That's the only round I played where I had not made a bogey in a round.
"I hear about guys going the whole week without making any; I'm making three or four a day."
It has been a great year, though, for Jason Gore who earned himself a "battlefield promotion" to golf's biggest stage after winning three consecutive events on the Nationwide Tour.
If nothing else, Gore is certain to be the fan favourite this week, his popularity spilling over from the U.S. Open earlier this year where he was thrust into spotlight as the plucky underdog.
For three rounds the unheralded and unassuming Gore lurked near the top of the leaderboard and played in the final pairing on Sunday with Retief Goosen.
Like Goosen, Gore suffered a fourth round collapse, shooting an 84, but learned plenty from the experience.
"Once I started playing well at the Open, I realised that I was able to play at that level, such a high level and such a big stage", Gore explained.
"It's still golf and that's really what I'm trying to look at it as.
"You've still got 18 holes and you've still got to stand up on the first tee and hit your tee ball and that's just the way it is.
"I'm going to try to go out and play golf."
The Fall Finish is an 11-event points-based competition where top-10 finishers earn points with a $500,000 bonus available to the player with the highest accumulative score.
Starting with the Deutsche Bank Championship at the end of the month, the competition concludes at the Tour Championships which tees off on October 31.
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