Singh Looking for a Better Finish

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 12, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Sony OpenVijay Singh makes it sound as though he's in a slump. The 42-year-old Fijian won four times last year on the PGA Tour. That might be considered an extraordinary season had Singh not won nine times in 2004. Or if he hadn't been overshadowed last year by chief rival Tiger Woods' six wins, including two of the four majors.
 
Oh, sure, he hasn't won since the Buick Open in August.
 
Davis Love III hasn't won since August of 2003. Go back another year to find the last time Chris DiMarco won.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh puts in more practice time than anyone on the PGA Tour.
What bothers Singh is how he finished the year.
 
Singh had an outside chance to win the PGA Championship when he returned to Baltusrol on that Monday morning, but he made two bogeys. He never seriously contended the rest of the year, and missed back-to-back cuts at Disney and Innisbrook - the first time in four years he had the weekend off in consecutive weeks.
 
'I needed to play a little better than what I finished last year ... to get back to the way I was playing the beginning of the year and two years ago,' Singh said. 'I needed to work a lot harder. I think being 42, almost 43, you have to work twice as hard to keep up. There are guys half my age out on Tour.'
 
And there is one who is young enough to be his daughter.
 
Singh is the defending champion at the Sony Open, which gets under way Thursday at Waialae Country Club. And at No. 2, is the highest-ranked player in the first full-field event of the year.
 
But the attention again is on 16-year-old Michelle Wie, who turned pro three months ago while still a junior at nearby Punahou School. This is her third straight Sony Open, and her fourth appearance on the PGA Tour, as she tries to become the first female in 61 years to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
 
Wie is almost putting in as many hours as Singh.
 
She arrived about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday for her early pro-am time - she shot 74 and tied for 45th among 50 players in a meaningless round - and was still on the putting green nine hours later before heading home.
 
Singh was on the practice green about the time Wie was leaving, placing four tees in the ground to work on his stroke. The idea was to take the putter back between two pegs, and swing it through two others.
 
The ball kept finding the center of the cup about 6 feet away.
 
Now if he can just get that to happen during the tournament.
 
While Singh was disappointed in his finish last year, he is still trying to grasp what happened to his finish last week. It was a supreme round on the tough, windy Plantation course at Kapalua in the season-opening Mercedes Championships, a 7-under 66 that was five shots better than anyone else and nine shots better than the average score.
 
Starting the final round five shots behind, he wound up in a playoff.
 
But on the par-5 18th hole, his approach landed just short of the green, his putt from 100 feet stopped 9 feet from the cup and he missed the most important putt of the round.
 
'If you had given me a 66 before the start of the day, I would have been really happy,' he said. 'But the way it finished out, I was pretty disappointed. Nobody likes losing in a playoff. I was probably more disappointed last week than I would have been if I was one or two shots back and finished second.
 
'It kind of stayed with me all night, and then I forgot about it the next morning.'
 
He has fond memories of Waialae. He was four shots out of the lead going into the final round, surged past Shigeki Maruyama, saw that Ernie Els had posted a 62, then made birdie on the last hole to win by one shot.
 
'Hopefully, I can do what I did last year,' he said.
 
Wie is looking for better results, even though she is more wrapped up in the process. The Hawaii sensation shot 68 as a 14-year-old and missed the cut by one shot, raising hopes that she could be the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make the cut on the PGA Tour.
 
But the wind blew her away last year, and she missed the cut by seven.
 
Hopes are renewed, however, and not just because she has a name on a bag and a burgeoning bank account from endorsement contracts and overseas appearance money.
 
Wie has come close to a Saturday tee time the last two events against the men, missing by two shots at the John Deere Classic in July and by one shot at the Casio World Open in Japan.
 
'I'm a year older. Hopefully, I'm more mature than last year,' she said. 'It's my third time playing here. Hopefully, I can use that experience.'
 
The Sony Open is the first chance for players to get off to a good start to the season, although Adam Scott is among those who really isn't starting just yet.
 
He's coming off a three-week break, flew from Australia for one tournament, and will take the next three weeks off. Twenty-two other players, Singh included, were at Kapalua last week. And of the rookies at Waialae, three have never played a PGA Tour event.
 
'It's one of the great ways to start the year,' Singh said. 'It's cold back home, cold everywhere in America, so this is paradise.'
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.