Singh Whistling a Major Tune Once Again

By Sports NetworkAugust 15, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- Vijay Singh birdied the first extra hole of a three-hole aggregate playoff Sunday, then made two pars to defeat Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard and win his second PGA Championship.
Singh won the title in 1998, then donned the green jacket with a win at the 2000 Masters. It was also Singh's fifth win of the season, virtually assuring himself Player of the Year honors.
'This makes my year,' said Singh, who pocketed $1,125,000 for the win. 'I played well at the Masters and I did not win. I played well the first two days of the U.S. Open, played well at the British, but this is it. I wanted one major again and it came at the right time.'
Singh, the third-round leader, struggled to a 4-over 76 in the final round. Leonard, who held a two-shot lead on the back nine Sunday, shot a 75 and DiMarco posted a 1-under 71. The trio finished regulation knotted at 8-under-par 280.
On the first extra hole, No. 10 at Whistling Straits, DiMarco and Leonard hit fairway-metals off the tee. Singh pulled driver and ran his tee ball just short of the green. DiMarco's approach took a bad bounce into the rough, while Leonard hit his second 20 feet from the hole on the back fringe.
Singh pitched to 6 feet. DiMarco's chip rolled 4 feet right of the hole and Leonard's birdie try ran 3 feet by. Singh sank his birdie putt and the two others made par to give Singh the advantage.
At the par-3 17th, Singh hit the shot of the tournament with a 3-iron that hit the slope in the center of the green. The ball ran down 5 feet from the cup. DiMarco's tee ball barley missed the putting surface some 80 feet short and Leonard landed in the rough on the right side.
Leonard pitched his second inside 4 feet and DiMarco chipped his birdie effort to 4 feet. Singh stepped up and missed the birdie putt left. All three made their shortish par putts and 18 was once again the stage for a great finale.
At the closing playoff hole, Singh held a one-shot lead and hit a 3-wood off the tee, while DiMarco and Leonard both found the fairway with drivers. Singh hit a utility wood 45 feet from the flag for his second.
Leonard and DiMarco both missed the putting surface, then DiMarco blasted a bunker shot 35 feet past the hole. Leonard chipped 5 feet by the flag so Singh needed to two-putt for the title.
Singh lagged his birdie putt a foot from the stick. He marked, then quickly tapped in for the par and the win.
Singh ditched the belly putter two weeks ago and won the Buick Open. This caps off that decision.
'Coming back from a belly putter and winning two in a row, I never thought at any stage that I was going to come back and putt so well so quickly and win golf tournaments,' Singh said.
Ernie Els and Chris Riley each bogeyed the last to shoot matching rounds of 1-over 73. They tied for fourth place at 7-under-par 281.
Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson never got anything going on Sunday and shot a 2-over 74. He shared sixth place with K.J. Choi (70) and Paul McGinley (69) at 6-under-par 282.
Tiger Woods, a two-time winner of the Wanamaker Trophy, posted a 1-over 73 and tied for 24th at minus-2. His majorless streak now dates back to the 2002 U.S. Open, a span of 10 tournaments.
'It's frustrating because I didn't win, simple as that,' said Woods. 'I felt like I was playing so well coming into this event, and I was. It's unfortunate that I just didn't continue that way, that first day when I played decent but putted so poorly.'
Woods may not have putted well, but Singh took 34 putts on Sunday and still managed to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy. Singh's birdie at the 10th in the playoff was his first of the day and his 76 was the highest final-round score by an eventual PGA Championship winner.
'I hung in there,' said Singh, who has now won the last eight times he has held a piece of the 54-hole lead. 'It looked ugly when you look at the score, but it was a good 4 over for me. I felt I played nicely. When you're in a playoff, you know you can't do worse than second. When Justin let me off at the last hole, that kind of gave me relief.'
Leonard bogeyed the 18th for the second time in as many days as the hole named, 'Dyeabolical' for course designer Pete Dye, lived up to its name on Sunday.
DiMarco had the best look all day when his 6-iron in regulation landed 12 feet from the hole. His birdie putt came up short, but that was the last good chance the final groups had.
Els missed a 6-foot par putt at the last that cost him a chance at the playoff. Riley, normally one of the steadiest players in the game with the flat stick, also missed a putt of less than 10 feet to fall out of the running.
When Leonard and Singh reached 18, Leonard, the 1997 British Open champion, missed the green short with a 5-iron from 204 yards out. Singh hit a 6-iron on the right side of the green, and missed his 35-footer short.
Leonard chipped 12 feet short of the stick. He missed the putt, then Singh holed his to force the three-man playoff, the first since John Mahaffey, Tom Watson and Jerry Pate in 1978.
'I just felt like it was a really good 5-iron,' said Leonard, referring to his approach on the 72nd hole. 'I was trying to hit it at the hole. It was a good club and I felt I was swinging the club nicely. When I hit the shot, I thought I just ended this golf tournament.'
Leonard built a two-shot lead Sunday afternoon, but DiMarco caught up with three birdies in a four-hole span from the ninth. When Leonard missed the green right at No. 10 and failed to convert the 20-footer for par, he and DiMarco were tied for the lead.
DiMarco fell down the leaderboard at 15 when his drive landed in the thick rough on the left side. He chipped eight feet by with his fourth shot, then holed the bogey putt to fall one behind Leonard.
Leonard drained an 18-foot birdie putt at 13 to move two clear of DiMarco. Both players dropped strokes on the second nine, DiMarco at 16, then Leonard at the 14th.
Leonard, who also lost a playoff at the 1999 British Open, had a chance at taking a three-shot lead, but missed a 7-footer for birdie at the 518-yard 15th.
Singh hung in despite hitting few fairways and even fewer putts. He parred every hole from eighth to the 14th, but bogeyed 15 when his approach went well left of the putting surface. Singh blasted 15 feet short and his par try lipped out of the hole.
Leonard now had a two-shot lead on the par-5 16th tee, but hit his 2-iron second shot into a bunker. His pitching-wedge landed on the fringe and his fourth stopped 5 feet from the hole. Leonard missed the par putt right, then parred 17.
Thanks to Leonard's mis-club on 18, Singh and DiMarco were given new life. Singh took advantage and moved his PGA Tour record to 4-1 in playoffs. Leonard fell to 0-4 in extra sessions and DiMarco moved to 1-1.
DiMarco may have lost his first big chance at a major title, but he picked up something else on Sunday. DiMarco's tie for second vaulted him to eighth on the American Ryder Cup points standing. The top 10 after Sunday automatically made the team.
'I'm proud of myself that I went out and got it done,' said DiMarco, who made the team for the first time. 'Once I made the par on 17 and hit my 6-iron on the green at 18, I looked at my caddie and said, 'that's good enough for sure.''
Riley's tie for fourth moved him to 10th, so he will be making his Ryder Cup debut. Fred Funk, who missed the cut, fell to ninth, but also made his first Ryder Cup team.
Steve Flesch and Jay Haas were ninth and 10th on the points table, respectively, but got bumped out this week. They will have to wait to see if U.S. captain Hal Sutton selects them as captain's picks Monday morning. So will Leonard. He had to win to move into the top 10.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Photo Gallery - Whistling Straits
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
  • Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

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

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

    Getty Images

    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."