Singh on Familiar Path to Success

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 25, 2005, 4:00 pm
2005 Zuric Classic of New OrleansFor the second straight week, Vijay Singh will enter a PGA Tour event as the defending champion. And for the second straight week, Singh hopes to leave with his trophy.
Singh escaped with a successful title defense last week in the Shell Houston Open, when he defeated John Daly in a sudden-death playoff.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh hasn't finished worse than T24 in four previous starts in New Orleans.
Just as he did last year at Houston, Singh won the HP Classic of New Orleans, now the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, on Monday. He fired a 9-under 63 in the weather-delayed final round to surge past the likes of Phil Mickelson and third-round leader Joe Ogilvie.
The win was his third of the 2004 season; a year in which he won nine times. This year has been strikingly similar.
A year ago, Singh won right out of the gates at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He didnt win again until Houston. In between, he tied for 13th at The Players Championship and tied for sixth at the Masters Tournament.
This year, Singh again won early in the campaign, at the Sony Open. He didnt win again until Houston. In between, he tied for 12th at The Players and tied for fifth at the Masters.
If Singh is to continue along this familiar path, hell have to win this weeks Zurich Classic on a different venue from that of a year ago.
After 16 years at English Turn Golf and Country Club, the event shifts to the TPC of Louisiana. The par-72, 7,520-yard layout ' a Pete Dye design, of course ' opened in April 2004.
All of the new TPC golf courses are all 7,300 or 7,400 yards, Singh said. Its matching the distance we hit the balls nowadays.
Its just more challenging now on the TPC golf courses. I just hope they go back and redesign the golf courses that weve been playing for years and make it to what we like, which is longer and tougher.
Ever since the TPC at Sawgrass was opened 25 years ago, the tour has been building and adding more TPC courses to their competitive rotation. There are now 23 TPC courses across the country and 10 that currently host tour events.
And few players, if any, have has the success that Singh has had on TPC layouts. Thats just one of the reasons why he is the overwhelming favorite to again triumph this week.
Five for the Title:
Vijay Singh
There are plenty of reasons to pick Singh to win. First and foremost, hes the defending champion. Secondly, hes the highest-ranked player in attendance. Theres also the fact that he won last week, which makes him the de facto hottest player in the field. But what would appear to be a disadvantage may be Singhs biggest advantage of all this week. This years event is being held at the TPC of Louisiana instead of English Turn G&CC, where Singh triumphed last year. Singh, however, dominates TPC courses. He has won twice at the TPC of Scottsdale (FBR Open) and once at each of the following locations: TPC at Eagle Trace (Honda Classic); TPC at The Woodlands (Shell Houston); TPC at Las Colinas (Byron Nelson); TPC at Deere Run (John Deere); and TPC of Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship). Thats seven victories on TPC venues. Hes tied with Phil Mickelson for the most of any player on tour ' and Mickelson, last years runner-up, is not competing this week.
David Toms
David Toms
David Toms has 11 career PGA Tour wins, including the 2001 Compaq Classic of New Orleans.
The former ' and forever ' LSU Tiger earned an emotional New Orleans victory over Mickelson in 2001. But his record in this event is anything but grr-reat! He has only two top-10 finishes in 12 starts, to go along with four missed cuts and one withdrawal. Toms has also struggled since a nice three-week run in which he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and finished fifth at both Doral and The Honda. He tied for 68th at The Players, where he shot 82 in the final round, and missed the cut at the Masters. But, as one of only five top-25 players in this weeks field, he has to be among the favorites. And in keeping with the TPC theme, he has won the FedEx St. Jude each of the last two years at the TPC at Southwind.
John Daly
Part of being inconsistent is being streaky. And fresh off a playoff loss to Singh in Houston, Daly may be headed towards another top-5 finish ' or perhaps a win. Daly has never had much success in this event. He hasnt made a cut here since 1993 and has only one sub-70 score in 13 career rounds played at English Turn. But now he gets to attack the 7,500-yard TPC of Louisiana, which should suit him much, much better.
Chris DiMarco
This will mark DiMarcos first start since losing an epic Masters duel to Tiger Woods three weeks ago. DiMarco faltered in the final round of this event a year ago with an 80, but he has three career top-10 finishes in New Orleans, including in 2002 and 2003. His performance at Augusta National shows that he can more than hold his own on a bombers course. But if there is one negative in DiMarcos column, its that his runner-up finish at Augusta is his only top-40 finish in a stroke-play event this season. DiMarco, who lost to Toms in the finals of the Match Play, is dying for a win; he has only three on tour in 10 seasons, and none since 2002. Perhaps this is the week the Gator finally gets it done.
Joe Ogilvie
Ogilvie has been playing as well as anyone this season ' who has yet to win. He has a pair of second-place finishes. He held a two-stroke lead through three rounds of this event a year ago and shot 68 on Sunday. That score, impressive as it was, wasnt enough to hold off a late-charging Singh, who fired 63 to nip him and Mickelson by one. Ogilvie only averages about 275 yards off the tee; however, he made it into a playoff at The Honda Classic, which is played on a 7,400-yard venue, tied for eighth at Bay Hill (7,267 yards) and was sixth outright last week in Houston (7,508 yards).
Finishing the Front 9
Four more players to keep an eye on
*Charles Howell III, who bounced back admirably from a disappointing missed cut in his hometown of Augusta, Ga., with a 17th-place finish last week. He has made the cut in all four of his New Orleans starts, including a tie for fifth last year. He has the distance to compete on the lengthy TPC of Louisiana layout.
*Padraig Harrington, who is readying himself for the U.S. Open by playing primarily in the States over the first half of the year. Since winning The Honda Classic, Harrington has tied for 63rd at The Players and missed the cut at the Masters.
*Davis Love III, who has four top-10s but no wins this season. Love has been battling a neck injury and may finally have gotten on track with his runner-up finish in his last start at the MCI Heritage. Love won this tournament in 1995 to earn a trip to the Masters. He could use another victory to earn a little confidence.
*Bo Van Pelt, who began the season poorly, missing his first four cuts, but has made the cut in seven of his last nine starts. He was in position to make a run at the title in Houston, before finishing double bogey-bogey on Saturday and eventually tying for seventh. Van Pelt seems to have finally found his footing on the PGA Tour after bouncing back and forth between the primary and secondary circuits since turning professional in 1998. He was 39th on the money list last year. This should be a welcome change of venue for Van Pelt, who has missed the cut in each of his previous three appearances in New Orleans.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Zurich Classic of New Orleans
  • Getty Images

    Teenager Im wins season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

    Getty Images

    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

    Getty Images

    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.