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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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.