Singh wins second consecutive Playoffs event

By Associated PressSeptember 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. ' Vijay Singh kept pouring in birdie putts, 35 feet on one hole and 60 feet on the next, as cheers turned from disbelief to sheer amazement.
 
That might be the last bit of excitement for this edition of the FedExCup.
 
Despite a volatile new points system designed to give more players a chance, Singh took the suspense out of the PGA TOUR Playoffs with an 8-under 63 on Monday to win the Deutsche Bank Championship in record fashion. It was his second consecutive victory, giving him such a large lead that he could wrap up the $10 million prize before the TOUR Championship.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh recorded his second career victory in this event. (Getty Images)
Right now, my focus is going to be next week, and see if I can wrap it up, Singh said.
 
A year ago, Tiger Woods drained the drama from the postseason by tying for second at the TPC Boston, then winning the final two events.
 
Singh has been even more impressive.
 
He won The Barclays in a three-man playoff last week, convincing himself that he was the best putter in golf. He made even more believers on a gorgeous Labor Day south of Boston, making birdie putts of 35 feet, 60 feet and 35 feet on the back nine to turn this into a runaway.
 
He played amazing. It was awesome, said Sergio Garcia, who was paired with Singh and closed with a 72. I dont think you guys are going to realize how good that was, because youre arent playing and you dont know how tough the course was playing. When Vijay plays like that, its hard to beat him.
 
Tour officials said any of 24 players still have a mathematical chance ' assuming Singh finishes last in the final two tournaments, and some of those guys win both events.
 
Dont count on it.
 
Hes back to form, Ernie Els said. Hes such a great player when he gets on form. Hes playing really good golf, hes got some confidence going. Hes going to be a dangerous guy.
 
And a richer guy, at that.
 
Singh set tournament records with a five-shot victory over Mike Weir (71) finishing at 22-under 262, breaking by two shots the record set by Adam Scott in 2003. He collected $1.26 million, enough to finally replace Woods atop the money list at over $6.4 million. Woods has not played since season-ending surgery after the U.S. Open.
 
Singh won for the third time in five weeks, and it should move him to No. 3 in the world ranking.
 
Attribute this to the power of positive thinking.
 
Singh, who has long struggled with the putter, convinced himself last week to stop reading negative comments and consider himself as good as anyone with the flat stick.
 
He has heard his share of psycho-babble, but realized the most important message came from within.
 
Whatever they can tell me, it works briefly, he said. But it has to come from inside me, and that was the biggest thing. I arrived last week at Ridgewood with a great attitude on the putting green and just kind of felt like I belonged on the greens. That was the biggest thing.
 
Another test came on the 14th.
 
Singh took the lead when Weir made double bogey on the ninth, then the 45-year-old Fijian made an 8-foot birdie on the 11th to build his lead to two, and stretched it with a 35-footer on the 13th.
 
He pulled his 9-iron approach to the 14th, however, leaving him 60 feet away. Thats the kind of putt he usually hopes he can lag close enough for an easy par. But not this time.
 
Once on the green, he kept telling caddie Chad Reynolds, Im the best putter in the world.
 
And he said, Youre damn right you are, now go ahead and knock it in, Singh said. And I made it. Instead of standing there and hoping youre going to get up-and-down in two, I was trying to make those putts.
 
Weir dropped to 1-9 on the PGA TOUR when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, unable to contend with big hitters on a blustery day. Even so, he moved up to No. 3 in the standings behind Singh and Garcia.
 
Els flew too many greens and made too many bogeys to make a charge, closing with a 70 to tie for third with Camilo Villegas, who shot a 73.
 
This was the final tournament before U.S. captain Paul Azinger makes four picks to fill out his Ryder Cup team, and his job didnt get any easier.
 
The top American was Tim Herron, who shot 65 and tied for fifth with Garcia at 13-under 271. It was the first top 10 for Herron all year. Chad Campbell made a late push with a 69-66 weekend in the toughest conditions of the tournament to tie for seventh with Justin Leonard (67) and Jim Furyk (72), who already have qualified.
 
Azinger was to announce his picks Tuesday morning in New York.
 
Too bad he cant claim Singh, a good friend, as an American.
 
Singh has a 12,225-point lead over Garcia. That means Singh is assured of having the lead going into the TOUR Championship, and another top finish might be enough to wrap up the title if none of the guys immediately behind him win in St. Louis next week.
 
Im going to go out and play really hard, Singh said. If I have another win, it will be icing on the cake. But I dont take anything for granted.
 
Herrons biggest week allowed him to keep playing. The top 70 in the FedExCup standings advance to the third round of the playoffs in St. Louis this week at the BMW Championship. Herron started the week at No. 99, but his tie for fifth moved him all the way up to No. 48.
 
Former U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera shot a 71 and claimed the 70th spot by 121 points over Pat Perez. Among those who failed to advance was Sean OHair, who was 16th when the playoffs began but missed two cuts and fell to No. 75.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Deutsche Bank Championship
  • Full Coverage - Deutsche Bank Championship
  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    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 what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    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).


    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


    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.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.