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.

Luke List, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods at the 2018 Honda Classic Getty Images

Honda leaders face daunting final day

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2018, 12:46 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The winner may need a cut man in his corner more than he needs a caddie on his bag in Sunday’s finish to the Honda Classic.

Smelling salts might come in handy, too.

“It just feels like you are getting punched in the face every single hole here,” Daniel Berger said of the test PGA National’s Champion Course offers. “Every single shot is so hard.”

Final rounds have been especially rough and tumble since the Honda Classic moved to PGA National in 2007.

That usually makes Sundays here as much about who can figuratively take a punch as who can throw one.

Luke List will have his jaw tested after taking sole possession of the lead Saturday with a second consecutive round of 4-under-par 66, but he can take comfort in the fact that punishment is doled plentifully around here.

“Just realizing that everyone is facing the same obstacles out there is huge,” List said. “You're not alone out there, if you make a bogey or a bad swing here or there.”

At 7-under 203, List is one shot ahead of a pair of major championship winners, Justin Thomas (65) and Webb Simpson (66). He is two ahead of Tommy Fleetwood (67), the reigning European Tour Player of the Year, and Jamie Lovemark (68).

List, 33, is seeking his first PGA Tour title in his 104th start. He will have to hold off some heavyweights, including Tiger Woods (69), who is seven shots back but feeling like he has a chance again. Woods closed with a 62 here six years ago when he finished second to Rory McIlroy.

“You never know what can happen the last few holes here,” Woods said. “A lot of things can happen and have happened in the past.”


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Crazy things have happened here.

Three years ago, Padraig Harrington was five shots down with eight holes to play and won. He made two double bogeys in the final round but ended up beating Berger in a playoff.

Berger, by the way, was nine shots back entering the final round.

That was the year Ian Poulter took a share of lead into Sunday, hit five balls in the water and still finished just a shot out of the playoff.

Last year, Rickie Fowler made four bogeys and a double bogey in the final round and still won by four shots.

List will have a heavyweight playing alongside him in the final pairing, with 24-year-old Justin Thomas looking to claim his eighth PGA Tour title. Thomas was last season’s PGA Tour Player of the Year.

List has never held a 54-hole lead in a PGA Tour event.

“You guys build up certain players,” List said. “I know I'll be an underdog going against Justin Thomas and guys like that, which is fine.”

There is some inspiration for List in what Ted Potter Jr. did two weeks at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter, largely unknown even though he already had a PGA Tour title to his credit, held off stars Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day in the final round to win. 

Thomas earned the right to play alongside List in the final pairing Sunday with his 65, which equaled the low round of the tournament.

Thomas makes his home in nearby Jupiter and knows the punishment the Champion Course can dish out.

“It's a difficult course,” Thomas said. “If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.”

Thomas played the Bear Trap’s trio of daunting holes (Nos. 15-17) in 2 under on Saturday. He birdied the 15th and 17th holes.

Fleetwood got in contention Saturday with a pair of eagles. He’s a four-time European Tour winner.

“I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week,” he said. “It’s just great to be out here. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game.”

Alex Noren, a nine-time European Tour winner, is also seeking his first PGA Tour title. He is three shots back. He lost in a playoff to Day at the Farmers Insurance Open last month.

Though this is just Noren’s second start at the Honda Classic, he knows how wildly momentum can swing on the Champion Course. He shot 65 Saturday after shooting 75 on Friday.

“I’m a few back, but anything can happen,” Noren said.

That’s the theme around here.

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Thomas: Winning hometown Honda would 'mean a lot'

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:53 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas is trying to join Rickie Fowler as a winner of his hometown event.

Thomas will play in the final group alongside Luke List on Sunday at the Honda Classic after matching the low round of the week with a 5-under 65. He is at 6-under 204, one shot back of List.

The reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year is one of several residents of nearby Jupiter. After Fowler won last year, Thomas (who missed the cut) returned to the course to congratulate his neighbor on his fourth Tour title.

“I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come back,” Thomas said. “But I’ve got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here.”

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More important to Thomas, however, is winning this event, which is played at PGA National, one of the most difficult non-major courses on Tour.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “It means a lot to win any golf tournament, but it would mean more because of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, how strong of a field it is, how difficult of a golf course.

“A decent number of my wins have been on easier golf courses, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.”

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Woods paired with hotshot rookie Burns at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 24, 2018, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Rookie Sam Burns will be in the biggest spot of his career Sunday – playing alongside Tiger Woods.

Burns, the reigning Nicklaus Award winner who turned pro after two standout years at LSU, will go off with Woods at 12:45 p.m. at the Honda Classic.

Burns, 20, who earned his Tour card via Q-School, is playing this week on a sponsor exemption, his fourth of the season. He is 13th on the money list this year, after a tie for second two weeks ago in Colombia.

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Burns and Woods are tied for 11th, at even-par 210.

Sunday is an important round for Burns, who can earn a spot into the Valspar Championship with a top-10 finish here.

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List leads Honda; Thomas one back

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 11:25 pm

Luke List, one of a legion of PGA Tour players who live in Jupiter, just two exits up I-95 from PGA National, shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Honda Classic. Here's how things stand going into the final round at PGA National:

Leaderboard: Luke List (-7), Justin Thomas (-6), Webb Simpson (-6), Tommy Fleetwood (-5), Jamie Lovemark (-5), Alex Noren (-4) 

What it means: Leader List has played well this season, with no finish lower than T-26 in six starts. Thomas, of course, is the reigning Player of the Year. The next best pedigree among the leaders belongs to Simpson, winner of the 2012 U.S. Open and three other PGA Tour titles.

Round of the day: Thomas and Noren both shot 5-under 65s. Thomas made two of his six birdies in the Bear Trap (at the par 3s, Nos. holes 15 and17), while Noren played that stretch (15-17) in 1 over. Noren made his hay elsewhere, including an eagle at the last that canceled out his two bogeys.

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Best of the rest: List, Simpson and Kelly Kraft all shot 66.

Biggest disappointment: After an opening 76, Jimmy Walker probably thought he was back on track with a 68 that allowed him to make the cut. Alas, the improvement was temporary, as he ballooned back to a 74 on Saturday.

Shot of the day: Tommy Fleetwood hit a fairway wood from 282 yards to within 8 feet of the cup on the 18th hole. He then made the putt for his second eagle of the day.

Quote of the day: "The course played a fair bit easier with not as much wind." - Thomas

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: List may be in the lead, but most eyes will be on Thomas, a five-time winner last year who has yet to lift a trophy in 2018. And of course, more than a few people will be keeping tabs on Tiger Woods. He'll begin the day seven shots back, trying to channel Tiger of 2012 - when he posted a 62 on Sunday at PGA National (which was good only for a runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy).