Singh Woods on Collision Course for No 1

By Associated PressMay 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Vijay Singh leaned back in a chair and flipped through a 13-page news release the PGA Tour puts out each week, containing all the vital data.
It didn't matter that most of the information was outdated. Singh knows exactly where he stands.
No. 1 on the money list.
No. 1 in the all-around ranking that combines all the key statistical categories.
No. 1 in PGA Tour victories this year.
All he has to do now is climb one more rung to get the ranking that matters the most to him: No. 1 in the world.
'I'd like to get to the No. 1 spot. That's been my goal for a long, long time,' Singh said Wednesday after his pro-am round at the Wachovia Championship.
'If there was any chance I was going to get to No. 1, it will probably be this year.'
Indeed, there is a sense of urgency at Quail Hollow Club.
The second-year tournament, already regarded as a can't-miss stop on the PGA Tour, features the strongest field since the Masters with only Ernie Els (No. 3) missing among the top six players in the world.
That means more world ranking points are available this week, and that means everything to the top two players.
Tiger Woods, No. 1 in the world the last 247 weeks, is assured of keeping his top ranking no matter what happens this week. He also recognizes that the gap has never been more narrow, and that Singh is not letting up. If the Fijian continues to play better, he will overtake Woods after the U.S. Open.
To some players, the gap doesn't even exist.
'He (Singh) was definitely the best at the end of last year,' defending champion David Toms said. 'To me, he would be the guy to beat this week.'
Even Woods conceded Wednesday that his top ranking is vulnerable.
'It's a fact I won't be No. 1 forever,' Woods said. 'Either someone flat-out outplays me, or I might not play at the same level, or old age takes over.'
It's probably a combination of all three, although Woods certainly is nowhere close to Social Security at the ripe age of 28, and Singh looks, plays and feels much younger than his 41 years.
'I feel I'm stronger now than I probably was when I'm 25 because I never did any physical workout until I got to probably 35,' Singh said. 'Before that ... all my workouts were hitting balls on the range. Now, I feel very strong. I'm not surprised by playing golf well when I'm 41, and I feel like I can go on.
'There's no telling what I'm going to do when I'm 42.'
What the world order in golf might look like a year from now -- even a month from now -- also is hard to predict.
A year ago, Woods had such a commanding lead in the world ranking that the points between No. 1 and No. 2 were equivalent to the points between No. 2 and No. 126. Now, the difference is the about the same as No. 2 to No. 5.
Some of that can be attributed to Woods, who has failed to win the last seven majors after claiming seven of the previous 11. His only victory this year was the Match Play Championship, where he conceded he probably would not have won had it been a stroke-play tournament.
A lot of that is due to Singh, who has been relentless.
Coming off a season in which he ended Woods' four-year reign atop the PGA Tour money list, Singh is coming off back-to-back victories in Houston and New Orleans.
'He certainly should get all the respect in the world because he's worked his game to a level where he's consistent and he's able to pretty much contend in every tournament he plays in -- and that's a lot,' Woods said.
'He's been playing great since the middle of last year. Nothing has really changed. He's playing really solid golf, and he's had some pretty good success on Monday.'
Singh won the last two weeks on Monday at tournaments delayed by rain. That probably won't happen this week at the Wachovia Championship, where the forecast is for mostly sunshine.
The dry conditions could make it especially tough at Quail Hollow, a 7,396-yard beast with a classic, tree-lined feel that reminds several players of a major championship.
'It's not exactly what people have told me,' Woods said. 'They said it was short with some doglegs. I don't know where they find 'short' out here. It's a very long, difficult, demanding golf course with some pretty tricky greens.'
The field resembles a mini-major.
Woods and Masters champion Phil Mickelson are playing this year, along with Davis Love III, Mike Weir and Stuart Appleby.
The only American missing from the top 10 is Jim Furyk, who is recovering from a wrist injury.
Woods knows his grasp on No. 1, which dates to his victory in the 1999 PGA Championship, is slipping. He also knows that it's up to him to tighten it.
'If you play solidly every time you tee it up, the rankings should take care of themselves,' he said. 'If you win, that's the ultimate goal.
'If I would be passed, then I wouldn't have won as many times as I normally have.'
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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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    Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

    By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

    PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

    Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

    Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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    Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

    PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

    With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

    After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

    “I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

    It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

    Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

    “It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

    Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

    “Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

    Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

    Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

    “It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

    Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

    “This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

    Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.