Singh Sharp Again But So is Tiger

By George WhiteAugust 2, 2005, 4:00 pm
So here comes Vijay, revving up the engine two or three times while wondering if anyone wants to join him. Remember, it was precisely this tournament last year where he put it in overdrive and just blew everyone out in finishing the season with six wins in his final nine tournaments.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh trails Tiger Woods by $180,000 for first on the PGA Tour money list.
It was the Buick Open last year where it began, after he had already won three tournaments at various times earlier in the year. Then, in rapid-fire order, he won the PGA, the Deutsche Bank, Bell Canadian, 84 Lumber and the Chrysler Championship. And this year it looks eerily familiar again ' he had won three times already and the Buick Open makes four.
The difference, of course, is the massive shadow of one Tiger Woods. Last year Tiger struggled fitfully and never did seem to get the Woods Express untracked. This year, he looks dangerously close to the form he had in 2000-2001, when he won 17 times. If Singh is going to win five more times this year, hes going to have to be awfully sharp to do it.
Vijay and Tiger were one-two ' with Zach Johnson tying Woods for second ' in the Buick go-round. Look for them to butt heads several more times before the season is over ' at the PGA, the NEC Invitational, the Deutsche Bank, the American Express, the Presidents Cup, and the Tour Championship. They may play together at the FUNAI Classic or the 84 Lumber.
That will be a true test of the reformed Woods swing. If Singh should go on another tear approximating last years late-summer performance, then Tiger isnt quite as polished as he hopes. But if Tiger wraps up a couple of more victories before the season ends, then he is right back where he was at the end of 2000.
For one week last week, though, Singh had his number. Woods had a scorching second-round score of 61, and tore up the back nine again Sunday with a 30. But Vijay was steady ' and good ' all four rounds. One stroke ahead of Tiger and paired with him in the third round, Singh lit it up for a 63 while Tiger was turning in a 70. That meant Singh could merely play Sunday to protect, while Woods had to go out and try to make up eight strokes to catch him. The closest Tiger could come was two strokes.
I thought at least if I played solid on the back nine, I'd finish second probably, and if I played a great back nine, I might be in position just in case Vijay messed up, said Woods. But he's playing too well to do that. Vijay is playing beautifully.
Singh was ecstatic over his putting at the Buick. Putting seems to have been the difference in this year and last year. While he certainly hasnt putted poorly this season, last season he putted well enough to finish 37th on the tour rankings. This year hes 49th, but he used a different putter last week and rolled it only 19 times the first round when he shot a 65. The final round, nursing a large lead, he just tried to assure himself of a two-putt each hole and finished with 27 rolls. For the tournament, he still was 17th.
And like at almost every tournament on the planet, the man who putts the best generally has a very good chance of winning.
I feel I'm playing better this year than I did last year, Singh said in an ominous quote at weeks end. I putted very well toward the end of the season last year. I putted like I did this week. If you putt well and play well, you're going to score well.

You know, I'm excited. I just hope I can just follow what I did last year. I mean, it's going to be hard, it's one of the hardest things to do is go out there and win golf tournaments. And as many as I won towards the end of last year, it's going to be almost impossible. But I'm going to give it a shot.
Singh has now won 28 times on the PGA Tour in a career that didnt start until he was 30. And he has won 16 times since he turned 40 years of age. Stop a moment and let that soak in.
Last year, naturally, seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Tiger, in the midst of a swing change, was playing nowhere as well as he has this year. And yet, Singhs win in the Buick ' Tigers sponsor, by the way, and with Tiger going against him head-to-head ' makes one wonder.
I'm a week-to-week player, Singh said with a shrug. I'm in the present and that's the way I think all the time.

But Vijay himself says Tiger is definitely the front-runner for Player of the Year honors. Singh has played rather sporadically this year, missing the cut at Pebble Beach and the Memorial. Hes been in the top seven in four of the last five events, however, and that includes the U.S. Open and British Open. He finished T-13 in the fifth event.

This year, though, is not last year. Tiger Woods of this year isnt the Tiger of last year. Singh could play just as good the remainder of this year and still win only, say, two. Vijay is still Vijay. Tiger is acting suspiciously like the Tiger of old. This, my friends, could get very interesting.
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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.