Woods in 2000 Is Standard of Greatness

By Associated PressSeptember 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
Vijay Singh has one month to put the final touches on what already is a masterpiece.
He won for the eighth time this year at the 84 Lumber Classic, setting the single-season earnings record with more than $9.4 million. Singh has at least three tournaments left, so the 10-10 mark - 10 victories, $10 million - is in range. And as a sign that the 41-year-old Fijian is only getting stronger, he has won five of his last six starts.
Clearly, comparisons with Tiger Woods are inevitable.
As long as the year is 1999 - not 2000.
Five years ago, Woods launched a spectacular finish to the season by winning the PGA Championship at Medinah. He became No. 1 in the world, shattered the single-season money record and wound up with eight tour victories, winning five of his last six starts.
Singh is every bit as good as that.
But no one stacks up against Woods in 2000, the modern standard of greatness.
'Tiger won three majors in 2000,' Singh said. 'You can't beat three majors. It's so much more difficult to win major events than normal tournaments. I'm just going to try to enjoy my own good season.'
Indeed, Singh should take a bow.
He joins Woods (1999, 2000), Johnny Miller (1974) and Arnold Palmer (1960, 1962) as the only players since 1960 to have won at least eight PGA Tour events in one year. If he were to run the table and finish with 11 victories, that would tie for third all-time behind Byron Nelson (18 in 1945) and Ben Hogan (13 in 1946). Sam Snead also won 11 in 1950.
Still, Singh's phenomenal season only illustrates how dominant Woods was in 2000, when he won nine times, captured the final three majors and set or tied 27 records.
'To me, that's still the best year anybody ever had,' Stewart Cink said. 'Unfortunately for Vijay, he doesn't have any more major tournaments this year.'
Everyone remembers the majors, but that was only a part of what made Woods' 2000 the Mona Lisa of golf. And that's why trying to match Singh in 2004 against Woods in 2000 is like putting the Americans against Europe in the Ryder Cup.
It's no contest.
Singh won his only major, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, when Justin Leonard bogeyed the last two holes in regulation and Singh won the three-hole playoff by making his only birdie of the day.
Woods won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by a record 15 shots. He completed the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews by winning the British Open by eight shots. He won the PGA Championship in a playoff over Bob May after both shot a bogey-free 31 on the back nine at Valhalla.
Woods doesn't play as often as Singh, but he usually plays only the tournaments that attract the strongest fields. All but one of his victories in 2000 included at least seven of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list that season, the exception coming at the Canadian Open. He won nine of the 20 tournaments he played.
Unless he changes his schedule, Singh will have played 29 times in 2004. He beat Woods head-to-head in Boston to replace him at No. 1 in the world, and he also held off Woods at the Buick Open.
But three of Singh's victories - 84 Lumber, Houston Open, New Orleans - included only one other player from the top five in the world ranking.
Margin of victory
Singh's most dominant victory this year came at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round tied with Arron Oberholser and won by three shots. Woods won five tournaments in 2000 by at least four shots, two of those by double digits (15 shots at the U.S. Open, 11 shots at the NEC Invitational).
Both players won twice in a playoff.
Woods won his nine tournaments by a combined 46 shots. Singh has won eight times by a combined 11 shots.
Although the seasons are only four years apart, the money is substantially higher in 2004 than it was when Woods set the record of $9.1 million in 2000.
Singh has played in 18 tournaments with at least a $5 million purse; Woods played in only six of those in 2000. Singh has played 26 tournaments with a total purse of $139.6 million; Woods played 20 tournaments with a total purse of $77.3 million. Comparatively, Woods won 11.8 percent of the purse he played for in 2000; Singh has won 6.8 percent of the purse he has played for this year.
In other words, if prize money in 2000 were equal to 2004, Woods would have earned $13,336,532.
Singh leads the PGA Tour with a 68.92 adjusted scoring average, giving him a .02 lead over Phil Mickelson. Woods set the record in 2000 at 67.79, which was nearly 1 1/2 strokes better than Mickelson.
Woods was under par in every tournament and played his final 47 rounds (including three majors) at par or better. Singh has finished four tournaments over par, and he missed the cut at Torrey Pines.
Top 10s
Singh is 15-of-26 in top 10s, and he has been outside the top 25 five times. Woods was 17-of-20 in top 10s, and his worst finish was a tie for 23rd.
Singh's season is worth celebrating.
But for there to be any comparisons with Woods, he will have to come up with something truly special next year.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Report: Augusta may lengthen par-4 fifth hole

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:18 am

One of the more difficult holes at Augusta National Golf Club could be adding some teeth in time for the 2019 Masters.

A recent report from the Augusta Chronicle details preliminary site plans from the Augusta Planning and Development Department. Chief among the proposed changes is a lengthening of the par-4 fifth hole, which currently measures 455 yards.

According to the report, a new tee could be constructed across Old Berckmans Road that could lengthen the hole by 20-30 yards. The change would alleviate congestion between the tee and the nearby fourth green and includes plans to curve the road – which has been closed to public traffic since 2015 – around the new fifth tee.

At last year’s Masters, former club chairman Billy Payne highlighted the area as a possible site for minor changes.

“We are always looking at certain holes, certain improvements to the golf course,” Payne said. “We have a great opportunity now in that we now own the Old Berckmans Road. It gives us the ability, as it touches certain holes, it gives us some way to expand or redesign – not redesign, but lengthen some of those holes, should we choose to do so, and all of them are under review.”

Should the new tee be built, it would mark the first club-enacted course changes since six holes were lengthened in 2006. According to the preliminary plans, construction would start on approximately May 1, following this year’s tournament, and would conclude by early November.

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Thomas: Raucus crowds becoming 'completely unacceptable'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES – After spending the first two rounds of the Genesis Open caught amid the traveling circus that accompanies tournament host Tiger Woods anytime he tees it up, Justin Thomas relished his third trip around Riviera with fewer bodies – and voices – in the crowd.

Thomas was part of this week’s marquee early-round grouping, playing the first 36 holes alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy suggested that the chaos of a Woods gallery costs the 42-year-old half a shot per round, and it’s a sentiment that Thomas supported after climbing into the top 10 with a third-round 67.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”

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Thomas enters the final round four shots behind Bubba Watson as he looks to win for the second time this season. While the crowds at Riviera are a fraction of the size encountered two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, Thomas recalled a couple of unfortunate incidents from that event when fans spoke up and snapped mid-swing pictures while he played the first two rounds alongside Jordan Spieth.

“I don’t know - I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really.

“We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

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Durant leads Stricker, MAJ into Chubb Classic Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 12:50 am

NAPLES, Fla. - Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker's Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.

Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

''You're going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,'' Durant said. ''I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, 'OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.'''

Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.

''I look forward to playing with Steve,'' Durant said. ''He's a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.''

The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year - a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.

''That's why I'm here, to try to win the golf tournament,'' the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.

He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.

''You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,'' Stricker said. ''Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that's when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.''

Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.

''Yesterday, I wasn't very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,'' Stricker said. ''On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you're patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.''

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.

''Tomorrow is going to be a fight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.''

Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.

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Watson takes one-shot lead at Riviera

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 11:49 pm

It's an even-numbered year, so we shouldn't be surprised that Bubba Watson is leading at Riviera. Here's how things shake out going into the final round of the Genesis Open:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-10), Patrick Cantlay (-9), Cameron Smith (-8), Kevin Na (-8), Tony Finau (-8), Graeme McDowell (-8)

What it means: Watson won the Tour's Los Angeles stop in 2014 and 2016, first shooting 64-64 on the weekend to come from eight shots back and beat Dustin Johnson by two strokes, then edging Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a stroke two years later. On Saturday, after a Friday night spent playing in a celebrity basketball game that was part of NBA All-Star Weekend (and getting a shot swatted into the stands by 6-foot-8 Tracy McGrady), he eagled the par-5 first hole, hitting a 200-yard approach to 18 inches, and kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, adding five birdies against one bogey.

Round of the day: Dustin Johnson moved up 45 spots with a 64. Like Watson, he eagled the first hole, then added four birdies to make the turn in 29. His back nine was an exercise in treading water, with eight pars and a birdie, at the par-5 11th.

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Best of the rest: Watson's 65 was matched by Cameron Smith, who moved up 12 spots to T-3 by making an eagle and four birdies.

Biggest disappointment: At 49, two-time former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was just four shots off the lead after 36 holes, but a Saturday 75 dropped him to a tie for 51st. Goosen's round was a matter of slow bleeding, with three bogeys and a birdie on both sides.

Shot of the day: Derek Fathauer eagled the par-4 third hole, holing his approach shot from 120 yards.

Quote of the day: "You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up." - Bubba Watson

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: Although Watson has won twice at Riviera, he hasn't won anywhere since his 2016 victory in L.A. His 2016-17 season finish of 75th in the FedExCup standings was the worst of his career. His closest pursuer, Cantlay, is just one stroke back after closing with a 54-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.