Singh Closing In on Tigers Domain

By George WhiteJanuary 13, 2004, 5:00 pm
So Vijay Singh has picked up in 2004 right where he left off ' by again scaring the bejabbers out of the men of the PGA Tour.
 
Singh came from six down Sunday to finish only one shot off Stuart Applebys winning score at the Mercedes. But thats not so unusual if youve been reading the papers the last nine months or so. Singhs been doing stuff like that every other week.
 
Heres what hes done since the Bell Canadian Open in October (a tournament in which he finished sixth, incidentally): John Deere Classic, won; WCG-American Express, tie for second; Funai Classic at Disney, won; Chrysler Championship, second; Tour Championship, terrible ' he finished tied for fifth; and this year at the Mercedes, second.
 
That means in five of the last six tournaments hes played, he either finished first or second, the lone exception being that one fifth place. Hes finished outside the top eight only once since last July 6 ' a skein of 13 tournaments. Thats a seriously long stretch, folks.
 
Im playing well, he said simply, and what an understatement. Hes playing great ' and even thats almost an understatement.
 
Right now, virtually all that separates Singh from Tiger Woods is Woods is a little more consistent putter. Singh was snakebit with the dadblasted roller practically the whole tournament at Mercedes. When the putting finally turned around on the back nine Sunday, Appleby had to clutch tightly at a lead which was six at the turn, but was down to a single stroke when Singhs l00-footer missed by two feet.
 
Dont get me wrong - he isnt a bad putter. He finished 18th in putting last year, and obviously thats pretty good. He understands the mechanics of the stroke, and hes been making them with a lot of regularity. Its just that Tiger is obscenely good with the little stick, and for now, thats the difference.
 
Im still learning about putting, Singh said, and if a man who puts the thousands of hours in practicing doesnt know it all yet, no one knows it all.
 
I think putting is always my problem. Not a problem - I'm not a bad putter. I'm just not a great putter. Great putters win a lot more tournaments.
 
I feel like if I can improve my putting part of the game - you know, I've always been able to hit the ball pretty decent. I'm driving the ball really good right now. My iron shots are not too bad. If I can make a lot more putts - and not saying every other putt I make, but my share of putts - I should be OK. You can see, if I'm putting well, I'm right up there winning golf tournaments.
 
Singh says it shouldnt be a surprise that his consistently high finishes should have carried over from the second half of last year to the start of this one.
 
I was swinging the club well, he said. I only took two weeks off. You cant go from swinging the club well for six months, coming over here (to Hawaii), and totally losing it. I kept practicing.
 
Hes a confident player right now, totally relaxed and in a smooth rhythm. Tiger seems a bit unnerved, ill at ease, with his swing. Not Singh. Hes striding up and bombing it, and he seems to know where its going ' every time.
 
I'm not fighting with my golf swing, he agreed. If I hit a bad shot, it's just a bad shot for me.
 
You know, I'm not going to say, Well, what went wrong with my golf swing? I just go out and tee it up and hit it again. I'm not really fighting that I'm going to hit a bad swing on a golf club. I'm just going to go tee it up and see the shot and hit it. That's what I've been doing the last six, eight months. It's a good feeling to have.
 
I think my golf swing is in tune with me, and I just feel comfortable with it. I'm going to keep riding it as long as I can.
 
Who knows how good Singh can be this year this may be the year when he finally passes Woods. Thats a bit strange, considering Singh will be 41 years old when the season ends and Tiger will still be 28.
 
But the gap closed considerably last year. Woods must continue to get better, if thats possible. Here comes Singh, flying low under the radar but getting louder and louder with each tournament. And its going to take a superlative effort to beat him.
 
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If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''