Lets Hear It for Vijays Quiet Eight

By George WhiteSeptember 28, 2004, 4:00 pm
Vijay Singh wins his eighth title of the year and there doesnt seem to be nearly the commotion present as when Tiger did the same trick a few years back. Isnt something wrong here?
Yes, there is. That answer should be music to those of you who dislike Tiger Woods ' and there is a sizeable number, judging from the e-mail that comes in torrents to the Golf Channel. But this thing can be folded, spindled and mutilated from any one of about a hundred different angles. Ill just add one ' my take ' and let the Tiger-haters pitch a bodacious fit.
Actually, Tiger had two spectacular seasons ' 1999, when he won eight also, and 2000, when he won nine. Singh easily could do nine ' or more ' in this season if the past four months is an indication. He has won five times in his last six tournaments, seven of his last 16 ' nearly a 50 percent clip. Its entirely possible for him to win a ninth ' and a 10th ' before 2004 is over.
Woods, of course, will always be remembered for winning three consecutive majors in 2000. His six consecutive victories to end 1999 and begin 2000 is another startling achievement. He only played 21 times in 99, 20 times in 2000. His win ratio of 17 victories in 41 tries those two years approaches the 50 percentile, also.
Singh put it into perspective immediately after winning No. 8 Sunday at the 84 Lumber.. 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.'
To rank Woods season ahead of Singhs isnt really fair, though. Eight wins in one year is an out-of-this-world feat, regardless of who does it. Only five players have accomplished more than that. Arnold Palmers top victory year (he did it twice) was eight. Johnny Miller had eight. Gene Sarazens most was eight. Only 14 players have recorded eight or more since they began compiling records. The most Tom Watson ever had was seven in one year.
So to talk merely of majors won is to belittle Singhs magnificent year. Tigers two years were more ballyhooed because of his youth ' he was only 24 in 1999 ' and perhaps because of his personal charisma. Singh is 41 ' he didnt play on the PGA Tour until he was 30. And truth be told, Singh hasnt done much to make himself a fan favorite. He certainly didnt win many points when he supposedly had such an adverse reaction to Annika Sorenstam playing at Colonial, even though he vehemently denied the negative quotes attributed to him by the Associated Press.
Singhs detractors point out that his record in the majors this year has been mediocre for a top player. But he did have a victory in the PGA Championship, arguably the most difficult tournament to win this year. And in the Masters he tied for sixth. In the U.S. Open he tied for 28th and he had a T20 in the British Open, both not so shabby.
Singh plays much more than Woods, which some have also claimed as a negative. Woods each year plays about 20 times. Singh will play 30 times before this year is finished.
But shouldnt that be as much a positive as it is a negative? How can you blame the man for playing 10 more times than Woods? And is he to be hammered because he won the little events as well as the big ones? And shouldnt he be praised for giving the whole country the chance to see him in action, as opposed to primarily the majors, World Championship of Golf events, and a few selected sponsors events such as Tiger?
Just think ' this year the people got to see him win in places as diverse as Houston, New Orleans, the Pittsburgh area, near Toronto, Canada, Boston and Flint, Mich. He played in the John Deere Classic and the 84 Lumber. He played in Hawaii and he played in Phoenix. Hes played in the important ' and not-so-important.
Vijay Singh has played 26 times and only once has he missed the cut ' early in the year at the Buick Invitational in San Diego. He is first in scoring average, first in greens-in-regulation, first in money won, first in eagles and first in par-4 birdies. He averages 301 yards per drive, and though hes only 145th in driving accuracy, hes No. 1 in greens hit.
Is he the best player in the game today? By just about every measuring stick, he is. Particularly the way hes played the last two months, he is.
He is, in short, golfs best-kept secret.
Email your thoughts to George White
Related Links:
  • Singh Earns 8th Win of 2004
  • PGA Tour Statistics
  • PGA Tour Money List
  • Getty Images

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