Vijay cruises in Buick

By Peter Aviles
Updated: August 3, 2005

VijayMAPLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY—Buick must be the car of choice for Vijay because for the second consecutive year he drives away with a new car, in addition to the winner’s share of the purse in the Buick Open. Unlike last year, when Vijay survived John Daly missing an eight-foot putt, he cruised to the finish line posting an easy two under par 70 in the final round. As he made his way to the tent to turn in his scorecard, he spoke about the round and somewhat lamented that he was not pushed which made it a little tougher to remained focused.

This win was his fourth of the year. Interestingly, Vijay recorded his fourth win in 2004 at this very same tournament as he ended with a record setting year, finishing with 10 wins and being chosen as player of the year. Perhaps this win might similarly propel him as last year.

Vijay set the tone for the tournament early on with a first round of 64 followed by 66, 63 and 70 in the last round. The 63 was amazing in that he answered Tiger’s 61 on Friday.

Heading into the third round on Saturday, you could not ask for a better final pairing than Tiger and Vijay. The fact that they were separated by only one stroke made for interesting viewing and added to the drama of the tournament. Unfortunately, Tiger did not hold up his end as his shot 70 for his round. Instead of moving up the leader board Tiger slid down and played with Sean O’Hair in the next to last group on Sunday. Vijay played the last round with Zach Johnson, who is competitive, but not Tiger Woods, which was the pairing desired by the public.

Tiger spoke about his 61 on Friday and said that “The hardest thing in golf is to follow up a great round” which is what Vijay experienced on Sunday. When Tiger was asked about the frustrations on the Saturday round he responded by saying, “Just compounds it because you’re trying to win the golf tournament, and I’m going one way and he’s going the other… Now I’m struggling with my game and he’s playing great.” The only hope he had to win was to go low on Sunday and hope that Vijay messed up. The end result was that Tiger did not go as low as he needed. After his horrid start with a bogey on the first hole, it seemed that Tiger did not have it and appeared at times indifferent on his way to a “disinterested” 66 final round. This is understandable when you start out eight strokes off the pace, and the margin increases rather than decreases. It wasn’t until the back nine that Tiger caught fire as he birdied holes 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, and for good measure eagled the 14th hole. Acknowledging the streak, Tiger said it was good and that “I worked on a couple of things for the future and it was nice to have those things come together, not for all 72 holes…but I’m showing signs and that’s very good.” With the PGA Championship coming up, it will be very good to see defending champ Vijay, and Tiger, winner of the Masters and the British Open go at it once again. While the winner won’t drive away with a car, the winner will walk with something more valued and that is the Wanamaker trophy, given to the 2005 PGA Champion.