Singh Mentioned Amongst Golfs Greats

By Associated PressFebruary 9, 2004, 5:00 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Vijay Singh is starting to hear his name associated with some of golf's greatest players.
 
His victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was his 12th consecutive finish in the top 10, leaving him two short of the modern-day record set by Jack Nicklaus in 1977.
 
The streak includes three victories in his last nine starts, allowing him to nudge closer to replacing Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking, a spot no other player has occupied since 1999.
 
But what pleased the big Fijian the most was a reference Sunday to Ben Hogan.
 
Along with winning nine majors, Hogan was known for his endless pursuit of perfection, a man who was at peace on the practice range as he repeated the most envied swing in golf.
 
In some respects, Singh is cut from the same cloth.
 
'I never met the person,' Singh said. 'I've read every book he wrote, and there's so many stories about him. He never stopped practicing. And not that I follow his footsteps - I don't think I can ever follow his footsteps - it's good to be recognized in the same room with his name.
 
'There is a guy who worked. He found it in the dirt. That's the way I want to be.'
 
Singh always leaves his signature on the range.
 
He digs so many balls out of the dirt in marathon sessions hitting balls, that when he finally leaves, his divots form a series of 3-foot trenches. You can easily find where he was long after he's gone.
 
'There is a lot more satisfaction when you try to find it, and you find it yourself,' Singh said.
 
His practice has taken Singh to heights he never imagined.
 
Already regarded as a great player with his two majors, the '98 PGA Championship and the '00 Masters, Singh has emerged as the closest anyone has come to Woods in the last five years.
 
Phil Mickelson has won as many times on the PGA Tour since 1999. Ernie Els has won more around the world.
 
But the best measure of Woods is his consistency.
 
That's where Singh is.
 
It started with a tie for sixth in the NEC Invitational at Firestone the week after the PGA Championship.
 
He challenged on the back nine the next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, and did it again the following week in Canada after recovering from an opening-round 75.
 
With a chance to win the PGA Tour money title - a trophy Woods had owned the last four years - Singh won the John Deere Classic, finished two behind Woods at a World Golf Championship, won at Disney and finished two strokes behind Retief Goosen in Tampa.
 
The only time he hasn't contended during the streak was at the Tour Championship, where a final-round 68 gave him a tie for fifth; and the Sony Open, where he tied for 10th. He has good friend Paul Azinger to thank for that - Azinger missed a 4-foot putt on the final hole that would have bumped Singh down to a tie for 11th.
 
Still, players are taking notice.
 
'It kind of reminds me of the streak Tiger was on a few years ago when he won the four majors in a row,' Jeff Maggert said. 'It was like all he had to do was show up and he was going to shoot 5 or 6 under. That kind of reminds me of the way Vijay is playing.'
 
What Singh has learned is that when he's playing well, he doesn't have to play his best to contend.
 
That was the case Sunday at Pebble Beach.
 
Singh was not comfortable with his swing all week, especially when he got to the first tee in a tie for the lead with Arron Oberholser.
 
Not that it mattered.
 
Singh hooked his first three tee shots and still managed to make birdies, quickly building a three-shot lead that only got larger the rest of the afternoon at Pebble Beach.
 
'I found out that on the weekends, if you just play decent - you don't have to shoot lights out - you will always improve your position,' Singh said.
 
He also revealed why he spends so much time on the practice range.
 
Singh sticks a shaft into the ground behind him to make sure his plane is correct. He also puts a golf glove under his left armpit to further perfect his position throughout the swing.
 
But what really turns him on is the flight of the ball.
 
'I just enjoy hitting good shots,' he said. 'I told my caddie a long time ago - I hit a shot in one tournament, it was great, just the way I want to hit it - I told him, 'If I keep doing it, I don't need to play.' It's such a great feeling. That's what I like to do on the range. It doesn't happen ... maybe a few times in a whole session ... but that's what I'm trying to achieve.'
 
Where will it lead?
 
Singh needs two more top 10s to equal Nicklaus' mark, and he's playing this week in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines, a course suited for big hitters. Woods is the defending champion.
 
The more interesting pursuit is of Woods.
 
Singh would have to win at a higher rate - he has won three of his last nine - and hope that Woods goes into a real slump for him to be No. 1, and even then, it might not happen this year.
 
The hardest-working man in golf knows it won't be easy.
 
'I'm playing the best I can,' he said. 'I want to be No. 1 before I finish playing competitively. But it's a hard feat to take Tiger off the top because he's playing well.
 
'If I keep playing like I'm doing now, I have a shot - maybe not this year, but in a year or two.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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    Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

    Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

    "Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

    Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

    "That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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    Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

    By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

    There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

    Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

    Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

    Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

    The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

    It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.