Singh Finds Number 1 a Nice Place To Be

By George WhiteJanuary 4, 2005, 5:00 pm
Vijay Singh begins the 2005 with a big red target square in the middle of his back. He hasnt been in this position before, of course.
Hes the No. 1 player in the world. He is, of course, the No. 1 player on the PGA Tour. He won nine times on tour last year. Number 1 is a new feeling to him.
I mean, I haven't started the season ever before being No. 1, he said, realizing that one Eldrick Woods has been the worlds top player since Singh could remember.
But, you know, I guess I played, probably, what - seven eight tournaments at the end of the season being No. 1? So you kind of get used to it. You don't really focus on that so much. Even though it's a great feeling to know that you're the best player in the field day-in, day-out, that's playing, it gives you a lot more confidence, a lot more boost to your, I guess - ego, I guess.
Vijay was trying to say its a much different feeling when youre THAT guy, instead of one of the pursuers. And he is still getting used to it.

It just lifts you up a little bit more and saying, Hey, I'm going to take charge, I'm the best player here. Kind of that attitude, you know, he explained.
It's not a cocky attitude, but it's a very - how can I say - it just makes you feel so much better. You've got to kind of start talking to yourself to the point that, hey, there's nobody here that's going to beat you - kind of that attitude.
But, you know starting next season, I know everybody is going to be starting level. World ranking does not matter at all. So you've just got to go out there and just play and get in front as quick as possible and see if you can stay there. That's the way I've always thought, and hopefully I'm going to start that way again.
Singh didnt really plan for this eventuality ' to be Number 1. He had hoped, of course. But he didnt know, honestly, if Woods would ever give it up. But give it up Tiger did. And now that Vijay is sitting on top, Singh isnt sure if he can keep it.
I don't really set goals, but it's going to be a hard one for next season, he conceded.
Vijay knows that there are only so many chances to win tournaments, and he normally will play about 28 times a year. He played in 29 last year, and that means there were 20 that he didnt win. But he won almost one-third of the events he entered, and that, partner, is extremely difficult to do.
Singh himself is a bit overwhelmed. Starting the New Year in Hawaii at the Mercedes Championships this week, he isnt putting himself in a straitjacket by insisting his goal is to win more than nine. Hes going to play his best and see what happens.
I just want to go out there and see if I can play like I did last year, not really focus on so much winning golf tournaments or the money list or my position in the World Ranking, he said. I just want to go out there and play aggressively and play strong.
I'm looking forward to it. I'm really excited that it's almost there now, and I just want to go out and want to play well and not force anything onto myself and see what happens. Obviously, the majors are one of my real focus points. I'll see if I can focus more on the majors and see if I can prepare a little more intensely for those ones.
The truth is, he may actually play better than last year and still not reach nine wins. If Mister Woods isnt just whistling Dixie, he is going to win a few more than one ' his last seasons output. Padraig Harrington is going to play a lot more on the PGA Tour and he will probably win once or twice. Ernie Els may win more than the three he collected last year. The bottom line is, the 29 tournaments that Singh played last year may be divided up much more than last season.
But not if Vijay can help it. Number 1 in the world is such a high honor. He would like to experience it a little bit longer, at least. Hes almost 42, so hes been working towards it for so long. Vijay Singh has found that being top doggie is pretty comfortable.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

Getty Images

Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

Getty Images

Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

Getty Images

Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.