Vijay On a Tiger Hunt

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 28, 2003, 5:00 pm
PGA TourLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- Vijay Singh is unlike any other player who has come and gone through the revolving door of rivals for Tiger Woods. None of the others threatened to take something away from Woods, such as an unprecedented fifth straight money title or perhaps even the PGA Tour player of the year.
No one else has won more tournaments with Woods in the field - seven with Singh's victory Sunday in the Funai Classic at Disney.
And remember, it was Singh who kept Woods from a calendar Grand Slam in 2000 by winning the Masters for his second major championship.
That was about the time the seeds of this rivalry were planted.
Later that year, Singh's former caddie wrote 'Tiger Who?' on the back of his cap before their singles match in the Presidents Cup. Woods didn't concede a putt longer than 18 inches and beat Singh, 2 and 1.
The rivalry reached its fruition Monday when Singh rose to No. 2 in the world ranking, his highest position ever.
'I'm playing the best that I can play right now,' Singh said. 'It's a good feeling to go out there knowing that you've got a chance of winning the golf tournament every time you tee it up. That's the way I feel.'
Just like Woods' other rivalries - Ernie Els, David Duval, Phil Mickelson - it starts with performance.
Singh has finished out of the top 10 only once in his last 10 tournaments, and his career-best four victories are only one fewer than Woods this year.
At just over $6.8 million, he leads the money list by $250,094 over Woods, although Singh already has played eight more tournaments than Woods and will add another this week in the Chrysler Championship in Tampa, where a victory would clinch the money title.
Even more impressive is his head-to-head battles with Woods.
Neither of them won a major championship this year, although Singh finished higher than Woods in the Masters, British Open and PGA Championship. They tied for 20th at the U.S. Open.
In the 14 tournaments they played together, each has finished ahead of the other six times, with two ties.
The difference is Woods has three victories to Singh's one, and Woods traditionally plays against stronger fields on tougher courses, which is why he has virtually locked up another Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.
The dynamic that Singh brings to this rivalry is a general dislike between the two players.
Woods and Duval became so close that they traveled to Argentina and Japan to play in the World Cup.
Els and Woods also are good friends, although the Big Easy gets along with everybody. The Woods-Mickelson relationship is overblown; Woods just likes to poke fun at Lefty, and he's certainly not the only player who does that.
There have never been warm feelings between Woods and Singh.
Singh's former caddie, Paul Tesori, was responsible for writing 'Tiger Who?' on his cap at the Presidents Cup, and Singh endorsed it by saying nothing.
When Woods and Singh went head-to-head in the final group at the American Express Championship earlier this month, where Woods won by two shots, their conversation could have fit on an index card.
'Good luck today.'
'I'm playing a Titleist 2.'
'Could you move your coin one to the right?'
'Nice playing with you.'
'Here's your card.'
While they never saw each other at Disney - the closest they got was four shots on the leaderboard - there were a few subtle shots fired across the bow.
Singh has said for the last month that the money title is the most important award.
'It's hard to win a money title,' he said. 'It's harder than winning golf tournaments because you have to play consistently all year to win that.'
Woods said he takes more pride in the Vardon Trophy for scoring than the money title because it's a better barometer of consistency.
'The money title can be a little skewed if you've played 30 tournaments,' he said.
Woods is not playing in the $4.8 Chrysler Championship this week, nor was he tempted to add it to his already thin schedule for the sake of trying to win the money title.
Even when told that Singh could have ended Woods' four-year reign before the Tour Championship, Woods shrugged.
'If he has it wrapped up, so be it,' Woods said. 'Anyone would much rather have player of the year than the money title. He plays a lot more than I do. If it were important, I'd play 25 to 30 events every year.'
The rivalry will continue to play itself out over the next two weeks.
How long it lasts after that is anyone's guess.
Singh is 40, although he is so strong and in such good shape that it wouldn't surprise anyone if he continued to play at this level for several more years.
The big Fijian even set his sights on being No. 1 in the world.
'I give myself another five years,' Singh said. 'It's going to be really hard to get Tiger from the No. 1 spot. He's playing so well every week. I just have to match that and play better than that in the next few years.
'We'll have to wait and see.'
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.