Daly and Woods just behind three leaders at Buick Open

Saturday, July 31st 2004, 2:42 pm
By: News On 6

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) _ John Daly walked to the clubhouse with a diet cola can in one hand, a trophy in the other and a smile on his chubby face.

After matching his best round of the year with an 8-under 64 Friday at the Buick Open, Daly was presented with a replica trophy earned from his victory at the Buick Invitational six months ago.

When tournament officials offered to ship it to him, the winner of just five PGA Tour events _ including two majors _ politely declined.

``I haven't seen too many of these. We'll just put it in the bus,'' Daly said, referring to his luxury motor home.

Daly is just one of the familiar names on the leaderboard at the Buick Open.

Vijay Singh shared the second-round lead with Jim Furyk and Billy Andrade at 11 under.

Daly was tied with three others at 10 under, one stroke behind the leaders. Tiger Woods had a 4-under 68 and was among four others another shot back.

Despite playing eight par-5 holes at only 1 under during the tournament, Woods has been pleased with his play and liked where he started the third round.

``I'm right there,'' Woods said.

The cut was 4 under, matching the low for the season on the PGA Tour and the lowest in Buick Open history.

``There are some good names, but no matter who is on the board, you're going to have to make a bunch of birdies,'' Woods said. ``It's just the nature of this golf course and tournament. You can't go out there and make a bunch of pars.''

Unlike majors, where conservative and solid play is rewarded, Warwick Hills forces players to be aggressive. Stewart Cink, who shot a 65 to join Daly in fourth place, said ``it's dart-throwing golf.''

Singh expects the weekend to be wild.

``It's going to be a shootout,'' he said.

Singh _ who shot a 70 on Friday after starting the day with a one-stroke lead at 9 under _ was one of the few on the leaderboard unable to take advantage of soggy conditions that made the course even more susceptible to low scores.

``It was a tough day,'' he said. ``I'm happy to be still leading.''

The highlight of Daly's round was the par-3 17th when his tee shot left him with a 2-foot birdie putt, which the crowd favorite made to draw a roar at the hole known for its rowdy gallery.

Daly, who has battled alcohol and personal problems, had a 64 at the Nissan Open in February when he finished fourth.

He missed the cut at both the British Open and the Masters and hasn't had a top-10 finish since April. But the Buick Invitational victory was his first since the 1995 British Open.

``I needed a round like this to get some confidence,'' Daly said.

Furyk, playing in his fourth tournament since having wrist surgery in March, has a legitimate shot at being the first to repeat at the Buick Open since Tony Lema in 1965.

He had a second-round 67, hitting every fairway for the second straight day, and has been in the 60s in 14 of his last 16 rounds at Warwick Hills.

Furyk needs his hot streak at the Buick Open to continue.

``I have to go out there and fire two low numbers,'' he said.

The last time Furyk had or shared the second-round lead was at the 2003 U.S. Open, when he was tied with Singh after two days before going on to win his first major.

Woods pulled within a shot of the leaders with a birdie at No. 14, but followed that with his first bogey of the tournament. He failed to birdie the par-5 16th after a lackluster chip and putt.

After his putt curled away from the hole, Woods swung his putter in the air while the ball still was rolling. After the No. 1 player in the world marked the ball, he flung it to his caddie with a look of disgust _ still disappointed with his poor chip.

``It was an easy flop shot because I had a great lie, and I just cut it too much,'' he said. ``The greens, as soft as they are, all I have to do is land the ball anywhere around the flag and I didn't even get it on the green. That's why it was so disappointing.''