Third Times the Charm for Singh

By Mercer BaggsNovember 3, 2002, 5:00 pm
ATLANTA ' This time Vijay Singh got the better of East Lake.
Feeling the course owed me one, Singh received payment in full Sunday, capturing his first Tour Championship title, along with a $900,000 first-place check.
Singh stamped his season by shooting 3-under 67 to win his 11th PGA Tour title. He finished at 12-under-par 268, one off the tournament record, and two clear of Charles Howell III, whose Sunday 66 made him the only player in the 30-man field to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.
'Besides the majors and (The Players Championship),' Singh said, 'I think this is one of the best tournaments to win. I am really proud to win this one.'
Premium Video - Subscription Required Vijay talks about his win at the Tour Championship.
David Toms (67) finished third, at 7-under, to earn his 12th top-10 of the season without a win.
Singhs second victory of the year was especially sweet considering his past at this venue. Twice before he had taken at least a share of the lead into the final round, only to come up short on both occasions.
'I'm just proud to win this trophy that owed me,' he said. 'The last two times I came over here, I thought I was going to win it. But finally, I've done it and it's really something that I am going to cherish.'
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing together for the second time this week, failed to factor. Woods double-bogeyed the first hole after his approach shot from the rough sailed the green. It took two more swings to finally reach the putting surface, and two more swipes to get it in the hole.
'I didn't really drive it very good today,' Woods said. 'Just one of those things where I couldn't get the ball in play.'
The 1999 champion hit only four of 14 fairways Sunday in shooting even-par 70. He tied for seventh, at 4-under. Woods officially ended the 2002 season with five wins - including the Masters and U.S. Open - 10 top-5s and $6,908,875 in 18 tour starts.
'It's been a great year,' he assessed. 'Winning two majors in a year - one major in a year is a great year, and I'm lucky enough to get two.'
Mickelson, who like Woods started five off the pace, played an un-Lefty-like round. He made 17 pars and a birdie for a 69 to finish tied for fifth, at minus 5.
Likewise, Howell, who was playing for the first time in the final pairing on a Sunday, was stagnant from the start, making one bogey and 10 pars out of the gates. He finally made birdie at the 12th, and then followed it up by flying in a pitching wedge from 115 yards for eagle at the par-4 13th. However, he never got closer than two of Singh all day.
'I had quite a few putts there on the front side where if I could have made them, it would have changed things,' Howell said.
Jerry Kelly, who shot 67 to finish fourth, shaved five strokes off his overnight deficit by recording a pair of birdies on the front side, and an ace at the 203-yard par-3 11th. The hole-in-one got him to 7-under, and one off the lead.
That was as close as anyone would get to Singh. After missing three putts inside of five feet, he finally made his first birdie of the day at the par-5 ninth. That was the catalyst he needed.
Singh made a second straight birdie at the 10th, and then nearly matched Kellys ace at 11. In less than a half-hour, he had turned a meek lead of one into a healthy advantage of four.
Howell tried to make a run by shooting a back-nine 30, but Singh kept him at bay with a birdie at the par-5 15th and three closing pars.
'It seemed like every time I hit a good shot, especially on the back nine, he was right there to answer it,' said Howell, who added he was far from disappointed with his runner-up finish.
'Today is what I have dreamed of forever,' he said. 'Apart from walking up the 18th green here and winning, this is all I could ever ask for.
'I could have keeled over dead on the 18th green and died a happy man. It doesn't get any better than that for me.'
Singh said he 'hit the ball probably the best all week' on Sunday. He credited his mental approach as well for the victory.
'I was really focused out there,' he said. 'I just played my own game and let it take care of itself.'
Despite not winning a major this season, Singh captured two tour titles, including the Shell Houston Open. He earned a career-best $3,756,563, and finished inside the top five on the money list for the fifth consecutive year.
'It's a good achievement,' Singh said of ending the season third in earnings. 'I'm looking forward to next year now.'
Final results from The Tour Championship
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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.