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.
Judging by recent results, that could be an awfully long time.
The literally nicknamed Big Fijian is fresh off a T-4 at the Frys.com 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.