Singh will have a new world to conquer next year

By Jason SobelOctober 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

Vijay Singh will turn half-a-hundred on Feb. 22 of next year. Just a guess, but he'll probably celebrate by hitting about 20 buckets of balls at the range, then enjoying a leisurely three-hour putting session before cranking out some bench presses at the gym.

And then he’ll mark the milestone by winning all five Champions Tour majors.

If he feels like it.

By the time most professional golfers reach the golden anniversary of their birth, the idea of three-round tournaments on shorter courses against graying fogeys with growing beer guts sounds like a utopian concept. Not so for Singh, who would like to keep competing against the flatbellies for as long as he can.

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Judging by recent results, that could be an awfully long time.

The literally nicknamed Big Fijian is fresh off a T-4 at the Open this past weekend, one of four top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA Tour starts. Despite battling injuries for much of the early part of the season, he’s cashed more than $1.5 million, now inside the top 50 on the money list.

Even though he’s already proven everything there is to prove – he owns 34 career wins; he once wrested away No. 1 world ranking honors from Tiger Woods; hell, he’s already been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame – Singh is still grinding away in Fall Series events more often left for journeymen, also-rans and up-and-comers.

Consider it a testament to his work ethic, his competitive nature, his desire for success and maybe even an admission that he wouldn’t know what else to do with himself, since he’s played at least 21 tournaments every year going back to 1994.

Asked recently if he could ever envision going cold turkey and retiring from the game, Singh sang a familiar refrain: “We'll see. If desire loses me or goes away, then I'm going to quit.”

Don’t count on it anytime soon.

The fact is, if Singh so desires he may be able to play in nine different major championships next year. A victory at The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship or PGA Championship is unlikely though not impossible; he would surpass Julius Boros as the oldest player to win a major.

At the five majors on the senior circuit, however, he will not only be the new kid on the block, but a prohibitive favorite to win handily. Not to take away from the accomplishments of players such as Roger Chapman and Joe Daley – each senior major winners this year – but Singh’s game rests in a different stratosphere than most guys his age.

Perhaps their best chance to beat him lies in a Danny Almonte-like birth certificate scandal in reverse, with Singh doctoring his paperwork like the former Little League ballplayer in order to compete with the big boys.

OK, maybe not. But what else are they going to do? If and when Singh decides to tee it up with the elder statesmen, they’ll be dealing with a guy who still ranks in the PGA Tour’s top 50 in driving distance, birdie average and scoring average – three categories which should prove him a man amongst, well, older men at some point.

Oh, and here’s the worst part: They won’t be able to outwork him, either.

Certain players shoulder stereotypes, though they're often for appropriate reasons. Phil Mickelson is the consummate fan favorite, signing autographs until the last Sharpie-wielding observer can walk away happy. Steve Stricker is emotional, punctuating victories with a puddle of happy tears. Ian Poulter is brash, a confidence that he literally wears on his sleeve in bright, multi-colored clothing.

Singh’s stereotype? He is the ultimate hard worker, owning a reputation as the player who constantly grinds at the range, forever trying to dig secrets out of the dirt. Hey, as far as stereotypes are concerned, it's not a bad one to have.

Most players would reach a certain level in their careers at this age and start taking it easy, but Singh isn’t most players. Never has been. Most players don’t win 34 titles, become No. 1 in the world, get inducted into the Hall of Fame and then toil in Fall Series events.

That’s what makes him special and what should make everybody else in the 50-and-over set very nervous about the coming years. There’s no guarantee that Singh will compete against them anytime soon. But he will turn 50 and he won’t stop working, which should serve as a very bad combination for the rest of them.

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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.