Singh Trying to Put Stamp on Season

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2004, 5:00 pm
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - One day he was in New York accepting the PGA Tour player of the year award. The next day he was on the practice range at Sherwood Country Club, hitting balls in the cold rain.
Vijay Singh keeps pushing himself even when it doesn't matter.
He will play his final tournament of an amazing 2004 season Thursday when he leads an elite, 16-man field in the Target World Challenge, the unofficial event hosted by Tiger Woods.
This will be the first time since 1997 that Woods does not end the season at No. 1 in the world ranking. Singh took that away from him, along with the all the awards, after winning nine times, bagging another major and becoming the first $10 million man on the PGA Tour.
John Daly called it 'the most unappreciated season of any human being that's every played the game of golf,' although even Singh would take issue with that.
'I appreciate it,' he said with a laugh after his pro-am round Wednesday. 'It was a great year. I did what I've wanted to do for a long, long time, and I guess practice pays off.'
Singh will have three weeks off after this week, perhaps enough time to let his achievements sink in. But part of him already is looking ahead to 2005, and what he will do for an encore.
'I hope I just keep playing the way I am,' Singh said. 'I don't see why I cannot. I'm looking forward to it. I know it's going to be a very difficult season for me because there's a little bit more pressure. How I'm going to handle it, that's entirely up to me.'
One thing is clear.
The 41-year-old Fijian who has spent the last dozen years chasing the No. 1 spot in the world now has to look over his shoulder to see who's coming at him.
And it might not be any one player.
Woods said his swing changes finally took hold last month, and he won the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan with a game he said would have been good enough to win anywhere.
Ernie Els had five victories, four close calls in the majors and is just as hungry. Phil Mickelson won his first major. Retief Goosen is finally getting his due as one of the toughest competitors in golf.
'I think everybody in the top 10 is going to be playing really well,' Singh said. 'I think Mike Weir is coming up, as well. It's going to be a good showdown next year.'
>This week might be a decent preview, even though several players who qualified through the world ranking decided to take a vacation, which is becoming a rarity in golf with all the offseason events.
Still, the field includes five players in the top 10 ' Singh, Woods, Padraig Harrington, Davis Love III and Stewart Cink ' along with Ryder Cup player such as Miguel Angel Jimenez, Chris DiMarco, Chad Campbell, 51-year-old Jay Haas and former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk.
And then there's Daly.
He also was honored this week as the PGA Tour comeback player of the year, having won at Torrey Pines in February for his first PGA Tour victory on U.S. soil in 10 years.
'It's a great award, but it just shows that you didn't do very good last year,' Daly said. 'But it is a cool award. And I take pride in the fact that I worked very hard to come back like I did.'
Even more pleasing to Daly is that he is at Sherwood, assembled with other guys who are recognized for good play.
Three years ago, Daly won in Germany for his first official victory in six years. He thought that might be good enough to merit an invitation to the Target World Challenge, but the mail box was empty.
'I'm just glad Tiger invited me this year,' Daly said.
Like several players, he sees this as a casual way to end the season and a tune up for next year. Daly will stay on the West Coast the rest of the year before heading over to Hawaii for the winners-only Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, followed by the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Daly had a consistent year by his standards. He had five top 10s and missed only three cuts (although three came in the only majors he played), and qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time since his rookie season in 1991, when he stormed onto the golf scene with his PGA Championship victory.
'This is kind of like a year in '91 without a major ' very consistent all around,' Daly said. 'But to be even close to what Tiger and Vijay and Phil and Ernie and those guys do year in and year out ... it's just one year. I've got to feed off of it and just take it from there.'
Singh feel the same way, even though the dynamics have changed. Instead of chasing No. 1, Singh knows he's the guy to beat even at silly-season events.
'They can hunt me all they want,' Singh said. 'I know how to hide.'
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.