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Jim Furyk favourite for Buick Open

With Tiger Woods swapping his title defence for diaper duty, world number three Jim Furyk will take centre stage at the Buick Open this week.

Last year Woods captured his milestone 50th career title at the Warwick Hills Golf Club but with the birth of his first child, daughter Sam Alexis, last week the world number one has put his playing schedule on hold.

It marks the first time since 2001 that Woods will not play in the event, which is hosted by one of his major sponsors.

World number two Phil Mickelson and three-times Buick winner Vijay Singh will also not make the trip to Grand Blanc as they rest nagging injuries ahead of next month's British Open.

Masters champion Zack Johnson and newly crowned U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera add their names to a long list of notable no shows leaving Furyk as the only member of the world top 15 in field.

With Woods and Singh having scooped four of the last five Buicks, Furyk will tee off on Thursday as the overwhelming favourite having won the title in 2003 and finished runner-up last year and 2001.

Furyk, who has recorded 33 consecutive rounds under par at Warwick Hills, also carries a rich vein of form into the $4.9 million event with two runner-up finishes in his last three starts, including at the U.S. Open in Oakmont.

After grinding it out in Oakmont, golfers will enjoy a major change of pace playing on a layout that was ranked the ninth easiest on the PGA Tour last season.

Fan favourite John Daly has accepted a sponsors' exemption and could prove a threat having broken 70 in 11 of his last 16 rounds at Warwick Hills where he finished second in 2004.

European Ryder Cup player Darren Clarke will be among a small international contingent in Grand Blanc.

The Briton will be making his second consecutive PGA Tour start in a difficult season that has seen him twice withdraw from events and miss the cut in three of his six starts.



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