PALM DESERT, California, Jan 17 (Reuters) - American Justin Leonard has decided to play in the PGA Tour’s Buick Invitational next week for only the second time in a decade to help his preparations for the U.S. Open.
Both tournaments will be held at Torrey Pines Golf Club outside San Diego, although Leonard accepts conditions will be very different when the year’s second major takes place there from June 12-15.
“The Buick is a tournament I don’t normally play,” the 1997 British Open champion told reporters after firing an eight-under-par 64 in the Bob Hope Classic second round on Thursday.
“I’ll probably pay a little closer attention than I normally do just preparing for it so that I feel when I come back in June I’ll have done that additional homework and it will be finished.”
Leonard, a winner of 11 PGA Tour titles since turning professional in 1994, has played in the Buick Invitational three times, missing the cut on all three occasions.
“The reason I haven’t been there is because I don’t feel like it suits my game very well,” said the 35-year-old Texan, who competed at the Buick in 1997, 1998 and 2005.
“I don’t really enjoy playing soft golf courses. I would rather see the golf course play firm and fast, narrow up the fairways and just make it difficult.
“Hopefully we’ll have those conditions in June,” added Leonard, who surged into third place with a 12-under total of 132 at the Bob Hope Classic. “I would assume being the winter time it’s going to be a little softer (next week).
“Seeing how they’re kind of getting ready for a U.S. Open and they know that a lot of guys are coming to get a look at it, I think it will be set up more for a U.S. Open.”
The Buick Invitational, won for the last three years by Tiger Woods, is staged on the South and North courses at Torrey Pines. The U.S. Open will be played entirely on the 7,568-yard South course. (Editing by Martin Petty)