The Man Who Would Be Singh
But when the rain stopped and the winds died at Kapalua the plotline turned out to be a preferred lie.
Vijay Singh had plummeted to No. 7 in the world at the end of 2006. He would be turning 44 in a matter of weeks. He had once again resorted to the belly putter, clearly an act of more desperation. And he had not been able to hold the 54-hole lead the last two times he had slept on it.
The field had, in fact, played preferred lies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the weather-challenged, season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Maui. Lift, clean and cheat, the players call it.
But in the end, the only cheating going on was what Singh did, once again, to Father Time.
Anybody that says 43 is old, Singh said Sunday after winning his 18th PGA TOUR tournament past his 40th birthday, ..they can go to hell.
Maybe thats it. Maybe Singh has cut a deal with the devil. Maybe the fact that he ceaselessly pounded the ball long off the tee while leading the field in putting was simply a testament to his talent.
In any event, the go to hell comment was all very vintage Singh, at his coldest and most defiant. And it followed Singh at his hottest on the course. His Thursday 69 elbowed him into a tie for the lead after 18 holes. He never trailed, at the end of a day, again.
Now he finds himself $1.1 million, 4,500 FedExCup points and one Mercedes richer. In a year that ends in 007, Veej is a secret agent of prolonged youth. Nobody else knows the formula. Nobody else has quite cracked the code the way he has.
Singh. Vijay Singh.
Everybody else in the elite field at the Plantation Course was shaken, not stirred.
The big Fijian with the languidly powerful golf swing has now bounced back to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Meanwhile, David Toms claimed the years first back-door top-10 with a closing 67 that turned out to be the low round of the week. Will Mackenzie birdied the 72nd hole and capped an exciting weeks ride that included three straight birdies and second place all by himself at one point early Sunday. Willy Mack wound up tied for fourth.
Adam Scott, who was bidding to become the first player since Tiger Woods to conquer Kapalua after winning the previous TOUR Championship, came second to Singh after undoing himself with a three-putt on the 71st hole. He did, however, jump past the absent Phil Mickelson and into the No. 3 spot in the world rankings.
Singhs 69-69-70-70 was 14 under par for four days and two shots clear of the field. And it shouted from the Hawaiian treetops that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Its still going, he said of the remarkable run that has been his Hall of Fame career.
Singh said his plan all week long was to hit it solid in the winds that blew and blew and blew. That sounds like, and is, a golf bromide. But when was the last time you saw any top player get beaten up at any venue by hitting it solid four days in a row?
Mickelson, shows up on the PGA TOUR, for the first time this year, the week after next. Tiger Woods is scheduled to debut seven days after that.
The message of the moment from Vijay Singh, 43 years young and still going strong, is a clear one: Bring it on.
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry