Singh Back for Title Defense

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Bell Canadian OpenVANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Regardless of what happens the rest of the week, Vijay Singh has already given the Canadian Open a huge lift -- just by showing up.
 
With Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and other top players passing up the world's third oldest pro tournament, the presence of the defending champion and second-ranked player in the world is huge.
 
Singh injured his back a couple of weeks ago playing ping pong with his son and withdrew from last week's Deutsche Bank Championship. Singh's decision to defend his title in the Canadian Open was great news for a tournament short on headliners.
 
``The back is fine,'' Singh said Wednesday. ``I could have a slight herniated disc, but at my age, the guy says everybody has that.''
 
Tournament officials insist this year's field is just fine, too.
 
``I'm always disappointed when Tiger doesn't come, but the field is as good as it's ever been,'' said Stephen Ross, executive director of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, which runs the tournament.
 
Maybe so, but Mickelson, Kenny Perry and Davis Love III are among the tour's household names who played the Canadian Open last year at Glen Abbey and aren't here this week. With a few extra spots to work with, 16 Canadian players, including three amateurs, are in the field.
 
Part of the Canadian Open's problem is that the PGA Tour schedule puts it right in the middle of a pair of tournaments on the East Coast -- the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and next week's 84 Lumber event in Pennsylvania. It also didn't help that the Deutsche Bank's final round wasn't played until Monday.
 
Some players apparently weren't willing to make the long trip west after the extended stay in Boston, then have to travel back across the U.S. to play in Pennsylvania.
 
``It definitely hurt us,'' Ross said of the PGA's scheduling.
 
Even Olin Browne, a journeyman tour player who scored a rare win at the Deutsche Bank, pulled out.
 
Stephen Ames, a native of Trinidad who now is a Canadian citizen, said Wednesday the PGA Tour schedule favors tournaments on U.S. soil.
 
``It feels like we're being kicked back into a secondary category,'' Ames said. ``I wish (PGA Tour commissioner) Tim (Finchem) would look at that. We have so many foreign players now that we should share the wealth rather than just thinking Americans all the time.''
 
The tournament also could use another stirring Sunday finish like last year's at Glen Abbey, where Singh beat Canadian Mike Weir on the third hole of a playoff.
 
Weir took a three-shot lead over Singh with eight holes to play and with 40,000 fans cheering him on and pulling against Singh, Weir appeared ready to become the first Canadian in 50 years to win the national tournament.
 
But Weir's putting abandoned him down the stretch. Three times he stood over a putt to win -- a 10-foot birdie on the 72nd hole, a 25-foot eagle on the 18th hole in the playoff and a 5-footer for par at No. 17 on the second extra hole. He missed them all.
 
Singh said Wednesday he'd welcome a similar scenario this week.
 
``Coming down the stretch, if I'm playing with Mike Weir and I win again, it won't bother me at all,'' Singh said.
 
Singh's game is good enough to get him into the final group every week, but Weir has struggled since finishing fifth at the Masters in April. He came down with a stomach virus that was bad, he fell asleep on his bathroom floor and awoke the next morning with a wrenched back. He tried to come back too quickly and missed the cut in six of his next seven tournaments. Since then, his best finish has been a tie for 15th at The International.
 
He says he's feeling better now and his game is starting to come around.
 
``Physically, I feel 95 percent. Mentally, I feel very confident, more confident right now than I have at any point in the year.''
 
Singh has won four times this year and is second on the year's money list behind Woods with $7.3 million. He plans to play in four more tournaments and still has a shot at being the tour's leading money winner for the third year in a row.
 
Singh has defended two of the nine tournament wins he had a year ago -- at Houston and at the Buick Open -- and a win this week would make him the first back-to-back Canadian Open winner since Jim Ferrier did it 54 years ago.
 
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    Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.