A Song to Singh

By Mercer BaggsApril 3, 2001, 4:00 pm
Somewhere between Tiger Woods' yes-or-no Grand Slam and David Duvals ailing wrist lies Vijay Singhs opportunity to repeat as champion of the Masters Tournament.
 
While Tiger outshines everyone in terms of media spotlight, the defending champion finds himself being overshadowed by a guy who hasnt played competitively in five weeks. By players seeking their first major. By players making their first appearance. By many in the elite, yet limited field.
 
Not that Singh minds.
 
He enjoys the label of Defending Masters champion. It gives him confidence. But he doesnt flaunt the fact that he won the one major no one thought he could win.
 
Singh talks about winning the 2000 Masters
 

Since donning the green jacket for the first time on April 9, 2000, Singh has only worn golfs premiere prize once ' for an official Masters photo shoot. Come Sunday, hed like to wear it again.
 
I want to put the jacket on myself, said Singh. Im the defending champion, and I want to go out of here as the champion again.
 
Many things have changed in Singhs life since he defeated Ernie Els by three shots a year ago at Augusta National. Appearance fees have increased. Public awareness has increased. Appreciation has increased.
 
Yet Singh is the same. He still practices religiously. He still traverses the world. He still contends week-in and week-out.
 
Vijay and others comment on his chances to repeat
 
It has been said the road less traveled is filled with stones; and Singhs path has been bumpy.
 
His journey from then to now began in Fiji, where he dropped out of high school to pursue a career in golf, a sport seldom played on the South Pacific Island.
 
Singh was banned from two tours. In 1985 he was kicked off the Asian Tour for allegedly doctoring a scorecard. In a recent interview with Golf Digest, Singh said the son of a prominent Indonesian was keeping his card and for me to say the kid made a mistake, that he was wrong, well, you just didnt do that.
 
I still havent seen that scorecard. If I changed a number, show me.
 
It would have been easy for Singh to walk away from the game. But Singhs never been one to walk the road of comfort.
 
He worked as an instructor in Borneo, and a bouncer in Scotland. Anything to keep alive his dream.
 
Then he won in Africa, established himself in Europe, and proved himself in America.
 
His first PGA Tour victory came in the 1993 Buick Classic. He won four times over the next four years. Then, in 1998, he shed the label as one of the best in the world never to have won a major by capturing the PGA Championship.
 
Its not a matter of liking it, Singh said of his road to becoming a major champion. To get where you want to be, you have to do that. You learn a lot about life that way.
 
Now Singh returns to Augusta National, where hell try to become just the third player in tournament history to successfully defend his title.
 
Were it not for Tiger, Singh would be the betting mans favorite - if not the general publics.
 
Hes finished fourth or better in his last six tournaments, two of which were wins in Malaysia. Hes moved to 5th on the Official World Golf Ranking. And his game now is in better shape than it was 365 days ago.
 
I really think the way that Im putting right now is the best that I have ever putted, Singh said. Each week, I get better and better.
 
Singh wont be using the same putter he put in play a year ago. Gone is the traditional flatstick. He traded that in for a mid-length putter, which locks into the bellybutton.
 
But it wasnt the putter that won Singh his second career major championship; it was his all-around play, particularly with his irons. Vijay set a tournament record by a winner by hitting 58 of 72 greens in regulation (80.6%).
 

Singh took control of the tournament on Saturday with a 2-under-par 70. Blas in number only, the round was the lone shining moment on one of the events nastiest days. A Southern storm dropped temperatures below 50 degrees and sent tree limbs and debris crashing into the picturesque azaleas.
 
On Sunday, Singh secured the title when, after Duval hit his approach shot on the par-5 13th into Raes Creek, he roped a 4-iron into the par-5 15th to within 20 feet of the hole for a two-putt birdie.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Singh made his first trek back down Magnolia Lane to play the course with friends. It marked the first time he saw the Champions Locker Room.
 
It was nice to see the memorabilia and trophies, Singh said. But it doesnt excite me that much. Its only a locker room.
 
The trip also marked the first time Singh had walked the course since that brilliantly defining Sunday afternoon. The first time he had a chance to truly reflect on the shots he hit, and the feat he accomplished.
 
I went back to the same spot (on 14) and I was just in awe, Singh said. How the hell did I ever pull that shot off? I guess when youre in the thick of things, you dont always see the negatives. You only see the positives.
 
That pretty much says everything you need to know about Vijay Singh.
 
Will Vijay defend hs title? Who is your choice to win this year?
Share your thoughts!
 
Full Coverage of the 2001 Masters Tournament

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?