Notes Singh Content with 2004

By Associated PressNovember 7, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Tour Championship by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Singh looked at Sunday as the beginning, not the end.
The 41-year-old Fijian wrapped up one of the greatest years in golf history with his best round of the week, shooting a 5-under 65 to finish ninth at the Tour Championship.
Singh came to East Lake with a chance to become the first player since 1950 to win 10 tournaments in a year. He surged into contention on the front nine, getting as low as 7 under for the round, but bogeys at 16 and 17 ended his hopes.
'It would have been nice to get 10 wins, but I'll take nine,' Singh said. 'Ten wins is a dream year. That's why it hasn't happened in some 50 years.'
Singh already had a dream year financially, becoming the first player to win $10 million in a season. In fact, he just missed getting to $11 million, coming up $94,834 short on the official money list.
After a short break, Singh will begin preparing for 2005. He doesn't want the year he became the world's No. 1 player to be the pinnacle of his career.
'This is not the end,' he said. 'I'm just beginning a great career, I hope. I can't wait to get out there and do it again.'
One other thing: Singh clinched his first Vardon Trophy by having the PGA Tour's lowest scoring average (68.84), beating out Ernie Els (68.98).
Tiger Woods, who had captured the award five years in a row, dropped to third at 69.04.
On the driving range before the final round, Jay Haas got in some extra swings with his 5-wood. He thought they would come in handy at the 18th hole.
'I had visions of coming to the last hole and needing a par to win the tournament,' Haas said. 'I felt like it was going to come down to me and somebody.'
As it turned out, the oldest player ever to make the Tour Championship was hopelessly out of contention by the time he got to the final hole.
The 50-year-old Haas, who was tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at the start of the day, looked his age coming down the stretch. He played the last six holes at 4 over, including a crushing double bogey at No. 16.
Haas drove into the thick rough along the right side, forcing him to pitch it back out into the fairway. Then, after getting on the green, he three-putted from 26 feet.
'The greens were very quick, but there was no wind to speak of,' Haas said. 'It probably played as easy as it could have all week, and I just didn't have it.'
After shooting in the 60s the first three days, Haas closed with a 5-over 75. He wound up in a tie for seventh, seven strokes behind winner Retief Goosen.
When it was over, Haas sure felt his age.
'It's hard to look back on the whole thing and get past today,' Haas said. 'When I play rounds like I did the first three days, I feel like I can still do this. When I play like I did today, I feel like I'm done and I can't do this anymore.'
Padraig Harrington is joining the PGA Tour next year, which he hopes will help him win a major on this side of the Atlantic.
While Harrington is one of the top players in Europe, he's heard over and over that his chances at the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship are hampered by his winless record in the United States.
'I don't want anything to take away from winning a major,' Harrington said. 'I don't want anyone questioning on Saturday whether I can hold up.'
The Irishman intends to play 16 to 18 tournaments in the United States, after entering only four regular Tour events this year. He'll also maintain his schedule on the European Tour, which means he'll likely take part in about 30 tournaments overall.
'I've won plenty of events, but there's still that tag when I come here that I haven't won here,' he said. 'The only way to get rid of it is to win here.'
Harrington came oh-so-close to his first American victory this year. He was runner-up in the Players Championship, finished fourth at the BellSouth Classic and lost in a playoff at the Buick Classic.
He got into the Tour Championship based on his earnings in the United States, which would have put him in the top 30 if he was a member of the Tour. He didn't contend this week, finishing 11 strokes behind winner Retief Goosen in 14th place.
'I'm happy with my year,' Harrington said. 'I definitely feel I'm a much stronger player than I was last year.'
He had planned to join the American-based tour for 2004, but the birth of his son, Patrick, put those plans on hold. The youngster is now 14 months old, and his father figures the timing is right.
'It's easier to travel,' Harrington said. 'If I'm going to do it, I better do it now.'
He won't be moving to the United States. He's comfortable in Dublin and there's plenty of flights to and from Ireland.
'I'll fly out tonight, sleep on the plane and be home tomorrow,' he said on his way out of East Lake.
While Phil Mickelson came within five shots of winning the Grand Slam, he couldn't be happy with the way his year ended.
The Masters champion played four of his last five tournaments over par - 5 over at the NEC Invitational, 7 over at the Canadian Open, 5 over at Chrysler and 4 over at Tour Championship.
He was 9 under in Las Vegas, but withdrew with food poisoning.
Mickelson shot a closing-round 74 at East Lake and dropped to No. 3 on the final money list. Ernie Els, who closed with a 67, beat out Lefty for the runner-up spot by $2,392.
Not that Mickelson did too shabby, ending up with nearly $5.8 million.
Jesper Parnevik was glad that Padraig Harrington didn't win at East Lake. That would have knocked the Swede out of the 40th spot on the official money list - and cost him a spot at the 2005 Masters. ... Another player breathing easier: Tag Ridings kept his hold on the 125th spot and keeps his Tour card for 2005. ... Stephen Ames danced on the green after rolling in an 18-foot par putt on the final hole. No wonder. The Canadian clinched a tie for fourth and earned $248,000, winding up eighth on the season money list with more than $3.3 million.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''