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 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.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.