Singh Wants to Finish The Year Strong

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Funai Classic @ Disney WorldLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ken Griffey Jr. walked down the practice range Wednesday morning and stopped to watch Vijay Singh, two world-class athletes with not much else in common.
 
One guy rarely plays in the fall.
 
The other plays his best golf this time of the year.
 
Singh has won his last three PGA Tour events, and five of his last six. Next up is the Funai Classic at Disney, where he is the defending champion. Its the start of a three-week sprint to the end of the season, and the 41-year-old Fijian wants to finish strong.
 
Despite having wrapped up all the major awards, his goals are clear.
 
Already an eight-time winner on tour, Singh wants to reach 10 victories. Not since Sam Snead won 11 times in 1950 has anyone won so much in one year. Singh also is $544,434 away from becoming the first $10 million man in golf.
 
Theres three more tournaments to go and this so-called 10 mark they all talk about, Singh said. Id like to achieve that. I want to end on a high note. I just want to keep it going and see if its going to last.
 
I just dont want to see it end, put it that way.
 
Griffey, who lives nearby at Isleworth, reached his own milestone this year with his 500th career home run. But his season was cut short by injuries, the second straight year he spent September on the disabled list.
 
Singh is relentless, and he really seems to surge in the fall. He started his ascent to No. 1 in the world about this time last year when he won Disney. He has won 12 times the last two seasons, with five of those victories coming in the final two months of the season.
 
There is nobody out there working harder than him, Chris DiMarco said.
 
Singh already has played 26 tournaments and will finish the year by playing Disney, next week in Tampa (he finished second last year), followed by the season-ending Tour Championship.
 
I dont really look at stats and look at how many tournaments Ive won, Singh said. Youve got to be really focused on what youre doing. My focus is on this event. I try not to get complacent.
 
Tiger Woods was in this spot five years ago.
 
A victory in the PGA Championship gave fresh legs to his year, and Woods finished it off in style by returning from a break to win the final three tournaments of the year.
 
Singh is hardly coming off a break.
 
He took a week off after winning the 84 Lumber Classic, then played consecutive weeks in cold weather on the European tour. He tied for 20th at the Dunhill Links in Scotland, then lost in the first round to Bernhard Langer at the World Match Play Championship in England.
 
Singh is the big favorite this week for a couple of reasons'he is No. 1 in the world for the seventh straight week, and he is the only player in the top 10 at Disney.
 
Woods, who has fallen to No. 3 in the world, is skipping Disney for the first time since he turned pro in 1996. He got married Oct. 5 in Barbados and decided to extend his honeymoon, still on his yacht somewhere in the Caribbean. Davis Love III, Mike Weir, David Toms and others who usually play at Disney are taking this week off.
 
Then again, it might not matter the way Singh is playing.
 
I dont think Vijay is really hoping that he gets it going this week, Billy Andrade said. Hes been doing it, having a phenomenal year. Hes been doing it every week. I think he knows hes going to play great. Hes got something we aint got. Its been pretty impressive to see what hes accomplished.
 
Hopefully, he wont continue it here.
 
Andrade is one of about three dozen players who have reason to hope Singh doesnt have his best week. While the 41-year-old Fijian is closing in on $10 million, guys at the bottom of the ladder are worried more about $600,000, the amount it could take to keep their PGA Tour cards for next year.
 
Except for Mark OMeara and Notah Begay (both injured), every player from No. 114 to No. 143 on the PGA Tour money list is playing at Disney with hopes of securing a spot in the top 125.
 
Andrade is no stranger to the bubble.
 
He wrapped up his card last year in Las Vegas with an eighth-place finish. Four years ago, he was headed back to qualifying school until he won Las Vegas to get a two-year exemption. But he rarely has gone this deep into the season with so much on the line.
 
Andrade relishes what most players dread.
 
I think its kind of fun, Andrade said. I kind of enjoy the fact that you have to go out and play, and you have to find a way to get it in the hole. And thats something I havent done very well this year.
 
Thats something to which Singh cannot relate.
 
Singh hit the $600,000 mark the first week of the season'a runner-up finish at the Mercedes Championships'and he has been rolling ever since to heights he never imagined.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Funai Classic at Walt Disney World
     
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.