Singh bags $10 million bonus

By Associated PressSeptember 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA ' Vijay Singh found it hard to get fired up for his last two tournaments.
 
Surely that $10 million will make him feel better.
 
Singh locked up the FedEx Cup and its huge bonus Sunday simply by finishing four rounds at the Tour Championship. He certainly didnt win it with his play at East Lake, closing with an even-par 70 and a 9-over 289 total that left him in a tie for 22nd place in the 30-player field. He was 16 strokes behind winner Camilo Villegas, who beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
 
But Singhs lack of passion was understandable. The Fijian won the PGA Tours first two playoff events, building such a large lead that no one could catch him in the season finale unless the 45-year-old withdrew or was disqualified.
 
I was reminded a thousand times before I started this week: Make sure you finish 72 holes, sign your card, (have) enough clubs and, gosh, everything else, Singh said. Im glad its over. I tried to make it very simple on my card today, no mistakes, and make all 18 pars.
 
After virtually locking up the cup with a five-stroke win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Singh broke par only once in his final eight rounds of the regular season.
 
It didnt matter. He still earned $9 million in cash, with another $1 million is deferred compensation.
 
You make a bogey, you get congratulated. You make a double, you get congratulated, Singh said, breaking into a smile. It didnt really matter what I made. It took away the focus of playing this tournament. I tried really hard. When I left to come here to play, I said, Im going to keep focus. But thats as far as I got.
 
It was the second year of the FedEx Cup, and the second straight year the finale lacked drama. Tiger Woods skipped the opening playoff event in 2007 and still won by such a big margin he could have skipped the Tour Championship.
 
Woods wasnt around this time. He underwent knee surgery after his win at the U.S. Open in June, forcing him to sit out the rest of the season.
 
Singh stepped up after a sluggish start, Overcoming various aches and pains, not to mention changes in his swing, he finished with three wins this year ' all since August.
 
Assessing his season, the three-time major winner called it up there among one of the best.
 
I was totally out of it for a long, long time, Singh said. Its self-satisfying to know I never gave up, kept at it ' hurt, not hurt, pain, if didnt matter. I was out there practicing and believing in myself and doing it. At the end of the day, I came out up front.
 
Hes not sure what hell do with all that money.
 
Ill find a million ways to spend it, Singh said. Theres a lot out there to do.
 
LEFTYS LAMMENT
 
Phil Mickelson could have claimed a spot in Sundays playoff by making a birdie at the 72nd hole, but his 20-foot putt stayed above the hole.
 
The miss probably cost him the Vardon Trophy, as well.
 
The award for the lowest adjusted scoring average on the PGA Tour was likely locked up by Sergio Garcia, who dropped his average from 69.53 to 69.40 by claiming a spot in the playoff. Even though he lost to Camilo Villegas on the first extra hole, the Spaniard is projected to beat out Mickelsons average, which improved from 69.52 to 69.42.
 
Most of the top players shut it down in the States after the Tour Championship, so its unlikely anyone else will bump off Garcia before the Vardon Trophy is handed out.
 
There were some ups and downs, Mickelson said. The plus side for me was that I played more consistent this year than I have in the past. But I didnt putt like I did this week. I putted great this week, and I need to do that more, because its a lot of fun seeing those putts go in.
 
GARCIA COLLAPSE
 
This wasnt the first time Sergio Garcia blew a 54-hole lead.
 
His drought dates to the 2005 Wachovia Championship, when he had a six-shot lead going into the last round and shot 72, losing in a three-way playoff to Vijay Singh. That tied the PGA Tour record for the biggest final-round collapse, matching Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters.
 
A year later, Garcia had a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker going into the final round of the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie, only to make bogey on the last hole and shoot 73, losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.
 
Garcia was three shots clear of Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim going into the final round of the Tour Championship, but his lead was gone after seven holes, and he got back only briefly after a par on the 16th.
 
The common thread of those collapses? He lost all of them in a playoff, this one to Camilo Villegas.
 
I let everybody come back into the game, Garcia said. I dont want to take anything away from Camilo. I think he played an awesome round. To shoot 66 today was great. But I still felt like I let it go a little bit.
 

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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.