Singh Beats Garcia Furyk in Playoff

By Sports NetworkMay 8, 2005, 4:00 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Vijay Singh got up and down for par on the fourth playoff hole Sunday to win the Wachovia Championship. Singh closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 12-under-par 276.
Singh was joined in the playoff by Sergio Garcia, who led after each of the first three rounds and Jim Furyk. Garcia bogeyed the 17th hole of regulation to close a round of even-par 72, while Furyk birdied the 18th hole to cap a round of 6-under 66.
In the extra session, Garcia found the 18th green with his second shot after Furyk's second bounced over the putting surface. Singh, playing third, knocked his second to 40 feet.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia reacts after a par saving putt at the 16th, but in the end it wasn't enough for the Spaniard.
Garcia left his first putt 6 feet short. He missed that and his three-putt bogey dropped him out of the playoff. Singh rolled his first putt to 6 feet and kicked in his par try from there. Furyk pitched within 5 feet and sank that for par.
Garcia was out of the playoff and with that tied the PGA Tour record for losing the biggest lead entering the final round. Garcia squandered a six-shot lead, which tied the mark of four others.
'I think I hung in there well. All the credit in the world to Vijay and Jim,' said Garcia. 'They played two very good rounds. But I played awesome the first eight holes. I should have been easily three- or four-under and I was one- under. It was tough. I'm disappointed, no doubt about it, but at the same time I'm happy about the way I performed all week.'
Both Singh and Furyk landed their second shots on the putting surface at the second playoff hole, No. 16. Each man two-putted for par and it was off to the 17th at Quail Hollow Club for the third extra hole.
Singh stuck his tee ball at the par-3 17th within 6 feet, putting the pressure on Furyk. However, the 2003 U.S. Open champion responded by dropping his tee shot 14 feet from the hole.
Furyk's putt slid by the left edge and the tournament looked like it was Singh's. However, the Fijian missed a hard-breaking putt and tapped in for par. Furyk rolled in his par putt and it was back to the 18th for the fourth extra hole.
Back on No. 18 for the fourth playoff hole, Singh found the right side of the fairway with his tee shot. Furyk then pulled his tee ball into a creek left of the fairway.
After taking a drop, Furyk pitched his third down the fairway from a thick lie in the rough. Singh looked to open the door for Furyk as he lost his second shot into a bunker right of the putting surface.
Furyk got an unlucky break as his fourth shot from 97 yards out hit the pin and spun some 50 feet away from the hole and in the rough.
Singh made sure the playoff would not go on. He blasted his bunker shot inside 2 feet and tapped in for par to win for the third time this year, two of which were playoff wins.
'You have to just go ahead and play it,' said Singh of the playoff. 'You shouldn't be disappointed that you could have lost. Of course you're going to be disappointed by not winning in regulation, but you just go ahead and play.
'Playing a playoff is like a coin toss. You have to go out there and play and hit the best shots you can. Straightaway it's match play and whoever gets 1-up that's it.'
Singh, a three-time major championship winner, played the front nine in 3-under with an eagle, two birdies and one bogey.
The 42-year-old caught fire on the back nine. Singh two-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th to get within one of Garcia. Singh, playing one group ahead of the Spaniard, birdied the 11th to join Garcia in the lead at 11-under.
Garcia came right back with a birdie of his own on the 11th to regain first. Singh rolled in a 5-foot birdie try on No. 12 to again tie Garcia at minus-12.
Singh made it four straight birdies as he drained a 14-foot birdie putt at 13 to take a one-stroke lead. His margin grew to two as Garcia bogeyed the 13th.
Garcia climbed back within one with a birdie on 14. Singh knocked his second shot over the green at the par-5 15th. He left his third shot short and walked away with a bogey. Garcia birdied the same hole to go from one down to one up.
Garcia knocked his tee shot in the water on the 17th. That led to a bogey and he slipped to minus-12 alongside Singh. Singh parred his final three holes to remain at 12-under. Garcia parred the last to end at 12-under.
'Obviously it was pretty exciting there at the end,' said Singh, who earned $1,080,000 for the win. 'You know, Sergio made it a little easier for us by bogeying 17. Even in the playoff, it was pretty tense. You can't miss a golf shot out there because the golf course will not yield at all. It was tough playing the finishing holes, but I played really solid today.'
Furyk, on the other hand, was chasing the leaders all day. He ran off four consecutive birdies from the fifth to jump to 10-under. Furyk, who turns 35 years of age on Thursday, tripped to a bogey on the ninth.
Around the turn, Furyk got within one of the leaders with birdies at 10 and 16. He then drained a 25-footer for birdie at the last to join the playoff. That was just the fourth birdie all day on the 18th.
'I played really well,' Furyk said. 'I hit the ball as well as I could have hoped for. I hit some really good putts out there; some went in, some didn't. Coming down the stretch, it didn't really look like I was going to have an opportunity to get back in the golf tournament and get in that playoff. You don't expect to birdie two of the last three on this golf course.'
Chris DiMarco also fired a 66 to finish alone in fourth at 8-under-par 280. Vaughn Taylor and Carlos Franco shared fifth place at minus-6.
Phil Mickelson made a huge run on Sunday. He was 9-under par for his round through 15 holes. Lefty faltered down the stretch with a double-bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18. He posted a 66 to share seventh place at 5-under-par 283 with Greg Owen.
Tiger Woods played the front nine at even-par. Around the turn, he collected an eagle at the 15th and a birdie at the last. However, after his round he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for moving a temporary immovable structure on the 10th hole. That dropped Woods from what would have been a share of ninth into a tie for 11th at 2-under-par 286 after a 1-under 71.
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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.

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    Tour's Integrity Program raises gambling questions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The video begins with an eye-opening disclaimer: “Sport betting markets produce revenues of $1 trillion each year.”

    For all the seemingly elementary elements of the 15-minute video PGA Tour players have been required to watch as part of the circuit’s newly created Integrity Program, it’s the enormity of the industry – $1 trillion annually – that concerns officials.

    There are no glaring examples of how sport betting has impacted golf, no red flags that sent Tour officials into damage control; just a realization that with that kind of money it’s best to be proactive.

    “It's important that in that world, you can operate not understanding what's happening week in and week out, or you can assume that all of our players and everybody in our ecosystem understands that that's not an acceptable activity, or you can just be proactive and clarify and educate,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained earlier this month. “That's what we have attempted to do not with just the video, but with all of our communication with our players and will continue to do that.”

    But if clarification is the goal, a copy of the training video obtained by paints a different picture.

    Although the essence of the policy is straightforward – “prohibit players from betting on professional golf” – the primary concern, at least if the training video is any indication, is on match fixing; and warns players to avoid divulging what is considered “inside information.”

    “I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” Chez Reavie said. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

    Monahan explained that the creation of the integrity policy was not in reaction to a specific incident and every player asked last week at the Sony Open said they had never encountered any type of match fixing.

    “No, not at all,” Reavie said. “I have friends who will text me from home after a round, ‘Oh, I bet on you playing so-and-so.’ But I make it clear I don’t want to know. I don’t gamble like that. No one has ever approached me about losing a match.”

    It was a common answer, but the majority of the video focuses on how players can avoid being placed in a compromising situation that could lead to match fixing. It should be noted that gamblers can place wagers on head-to-head matchups, provided by betting outlets, during stroke-play rounds of tournaments – not just in match-play competitions.

    Part of the training video included questions players must answer to avoid violating the policy. An example of this was how a player should respond when asked, “Hello, buddy! Well played today. I was following your progress. I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18, looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?”

    The correct answer from a list of options was, “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

    You get the idea, but for some players the training created more questions.

    How, for example, should a player respond when asked how he’s feeling by a fan?

    “The part I don’t understand, let’s say a member of your club comes out and watches you on the range hitting balls, he knows you’re struggling, and he bets against you. Somehow, some way that could come back to you, according to what I saw on that video,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

    Exactly what constitutes a violation is still unclear for some who took the training, which was even more concerning considering the penalties for a violation of the policy.

    The first violation is a warning and a second infraction will require the player to retake the training program, but a third violation is a fine “up to $500,000” or “the amount illegally received from the betting activity.” A sixth violation is a lifetime ban from the Tour.

    Players are advised to be mindful of what they post on social media and to “refrain from talking about odds or betting activity.” The latter could be an issue considering how often players discuss betting on other sports.

    Just last week at the Sony Open, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas had a “friendly” wager on the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kisner, a Georgia fan, lost the wager and had to wear an Alabama football jersey while playing the 17th hole last Thursday.

    “If I'd have got the points, he'd have been wearing [the jersey], and I was lobbying for the points the whole week, and he didn't give them to me,” Kisner said. “So I'm still not sure about this bet.”

    It’s unclear to some if Kisner’s remark, which was a joke and didn’t have anything to do with golf, would be considered a violation. From a common sense standpoint, Kisner did nothing wrong, but the uncertainty is an issue.

    Much like drug testing, which the Tour introduced in 2008, few, if any, think sport betting is an issue in golf; but also like the anti-doping program, there appears to be the danger of an inadvertent and entirely innocent violation.

    The Tour is trying to be proactive and the circuit has a trillion reasons to get out in front of what could become an issue, but if the initial reaction to the training video is any indication they may want to try a second take.

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    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.