Singh Misunderstood but What a Player
His second-place finish at the Chrysler Championship last week meant that he hasnt finished lower than a tie for sixth since the PGA Championship in August. In his last four tournaments, he has won twice, finished in a tie for second, and finished second. The last four months, he has finished out of the top 10 only twice ' and one of those was an 11th place finish at the Western.
Unfortunately, just about everyone knows Singh because of the remarks he allegedly made this year concerning Annika Sorenstam and her entry into Colonial. Dont forget, nice-guy Nick Price voiced strong disapproval, among countless others. Singh says he wasnt quoted correctly ' common when an athlete says something and then reconsiders when he sees it in print. But Singh was commenting in the locker room where tape recorders are not allowed, and the reporter was trying to capture the remarks via longhand. Whether he said it exactly as quoted is open for debate, but Im willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I would give him the benefit even if I were the reporter.
Nonetheless, Singh has three or four things going against him ' one is the Annika situation; another is the fact that he is ' lets face it ' a foreigner, and his main adversary, Tiger Woods, is American; another is his reticence at public speaking, exacerbated by the Annika thing; and then there are the allegations that he cheated many years ago in Asia, signing for one stroke lower than he actually had to make a cut ' an accusation that he has denied numerous times since, incidentally.
Singh, in short, isnt going to win any popularity contests. But that doesnt mean that he hasnt developed into a superb golfer.
He has played nine more events than Woods, meaning Woods has a sizeable lead in the money-won-per-event-played category. On the other hand, it really lends credence to his driving average of 302 yards per whack, seventh best on tour. It speaks reams about his 15th rank in greens-in-regulation, his 13th position in putting, No. 2 ranking in scoring, and his No. 1 ranking on par-4s. He has, in essence, turned in one unbelievable season.
A lot of pundits say that Woods raised the bar, to regurgitate a saying that by now is getting pretty nauseating, with his excellence the past five years. It may be the Tiger influence, but for Singh, it is the product of a lot of tiring work.
Im playing better than I have before, Singh told a news conference after his finish at Chrysler. Its easier to go out there and hit the wall, and it feels good. I am enjoying playing the game of golf.
I have been working physically hard on my golf game. So its just now coming together.
I dont think its Tiger doing this - I think everybodys game has risen to the next level, and I just kind of rose with it.
Singh will be the first to admit hes made mistakes ' plenty of mistakes. But he seems to have a knack of doing the wrong thing at the worst time. He undoubtedly has hurt himself by being so closed-mouthed to the press. But starting with the incident in 1985 in Asia and going though the Sorenstam thing this year, he feels he has to keep it under wraps. Say no evil, write no evil, thats the motto.
But simply clamming up has hardly been the best way to deal with the issue. There are many columnists who get paid to give opinions. And just because the subject hasnt spoken is no reason not to comment ' especially if the subject has played as well as Vijay has. But most of the press are professional in their remarks, he says.
A majority of the press treat us with respect, he told Golf Digest last year, but it only takes a few, on the other side, to spoil things.
Of course, it only takes a momentary lapse of memory to forget that you said something that might have come out wrong. But Singh has been judged rather harshly, and its time he was cut a little slack.
Singh is 40 years old now, but he has the physique of a man in his 20s. Hes 6-2 and still weighs under 200 pounds. He has developed into a superb golfer. If hes 40 or if hes 20, he has proven that dedication to the task at hand can pay remarkable dividends.
I don't think there are any secrets out there, Singh said. This year with Jay Haas winning and (Craig) Stadler winning over here, (Peter) Jacobsen winning over here - it doesn't really matter. Age doesn't matter. If you are physically fit and your mind is fresh, I think you can play at any age.
Vijay has arrived, even if he is a bit late getting to the ball. But are you aware that he has been inside the top 20 on the money list since 1995, and inside the top five since 1998? Thats six straight years he has finished fifth or better.
He plays a lot, but thats what the tournaments are there for. And he wins a lot of the John Deeres and Funai Classics and Hondas and Houstons. But someone has to win them. And meanwhile, Vijay Singh has very slowly, very quietly crept up to a position of real eminence.
Email your thoughts to George White
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