Notes For Singh Houston Might Be Launching Pad

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PGA Tour (75x100)Vijay Singh now has gone three months since his last victory, when he birdied the 18th hole at Waialae and posed with a purple lei around his neck, a trophy in his hands and the No. 1 ranking next to his name.
 
He missed a cut on the West Coast. He was dismissed early from the Match Play Championship. He was never a serious threat at the Masters, except for whatever went on in the Champions Locker Room during his spat with Phil Mickelson over spike marks.
 
His dry spell might be cause for alarm, but only if taking a snapshot of his 2005 season.
 
The big picture shows Singh in the same position he was a year ago when he arrived at the Houston Open.
 
His only victory was at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut at the Buick Invitational, didn't last long at La Costa and didn't offer anyone much of a clue that he was on the verge of a special year.
 
Then he won Houston by two shots over Scott Hoch, shot 29 on the back nine the next week in New Orleans for a comeback victory and wound up winning nine times and nearly $11 million when the season was over.
 
PIGSKINS AND THE PGA
Except for one week in October, the PGA Tour won't have to worry about the NFL getting in the way of its fall tournaments.
 
Still, that tournament is a big one.
 
The American Express Championship will be played Oct. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco, finishing the same day the San Francisco 49ers host to the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.
 
Otherwise, the tour has no conflicts with the NFL.
 
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road during the 84 Lumber Classic. And the Sunday of the Presidents Cup in northern Virginia, the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens have a bye.
 
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye during the Funai Classic at Disney, and the Bucs are on the road the next week during the Chrysler Championship at Tampa. During the one fall tournament in North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers are at home on Monday night -- the day after the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
 
The season-ending Tour Championship is again at East Lake in Atlanta. The Falcons play at Miami that week.
 
EARLY ENTRY
The World Golf Hall of Fame is constantly looking at ways to tweak its induction ceremony. One suggestion was to have LPGA Tour players inducted at age 40, the same age when PGA Tour players are eligible for the ballot.
 
``That has come up in conversation,'' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said recently. ``It came up in our committee meetings, as to whether we would look at that. But I don't think we'll look at it very long. We think our 10-year requirement is reasonable.''
 
The LPGA requirement for the Hall of Fame is 27 points -- one point for a victory, two for a major, and points for winning the Vare Trophy for player of the year -- and playing 10 years on tour.
 
Annika Sorenstam was inducted into the Hall of Fame when she was 33. Karrie Webb will be 30 when she is inducted this fall after completing her 10th year. Votaw said their induction, along with Se Ri Pak at age 30 in 2007, is a reflection of three great players who came along at about the same time.
 
EURO AWARD
Some found it strange that Vijay Singh was voted the 2004 player of the year on the European tour, even though he played only four times in Europe.
 
Singh is a European tour member, so that made him eligible.
 
The same ostensibly holds true for Padraig Harrington. The Irishman was named European tour player of the month for March ``following his superb victory in the Honda Classic.''
 
Harrington only played three times in March -- all of those tournaments in Florida.

He was selected over a ``strong list of contenders,'' one of those being Ernie Els, who won back-to-back weeks on the European tour in Dubai and Qatar.
 
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Darren Clarke had a six-shot lead after 36 holes of the MCI Heritage, then closed with rounds of 73-76 and lost to Peter Lonard of Australia.
 
He became the first player to blow a six-shot lead at the halfway point of a PGA Tour event since Nick Price in the 1984 Canadian Open.
 
Price also closed with rounds of 73-76 and wound up losing to an Australian -- Greg Norman.
 
MAGNOLIA MAKEOVER
The Magnolia Course at Disney is the latest PGA Tour course to get lengthened.
 
During a makeover this summer, Disney plans to lengthen 10 holes on the Mag by a total of 300 yards, making the course play about 7,500 yards from the championship tees. Three changes will come on the par 3s, and four of the par 4s will be at least 480 yards.
 
``When Joe Lee designed our finishing hole, his intention was for players to use a 4- or 5-iron for their approach,'' Disney head pro Kevin Weickel said. ``Now we have some players using a wedge. By adding 30 yards to the length of No. 18, we won't return it to Joe's original intent, but we will make it more interesting and challenging for the players.''
 
Disney also will be resurfacing the greens on the Magnolia, having done that to the Palm Course last year.
 
DIVOTS
Tiger Woods now has three homes to go along with his boat. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reports that Woods and wife Elin Nordegren have bought a two-bedroom apartment worth $1.8 million in central Stockholm, where his wife's family lives. Nordegren's mother, Barbro Holmberg, is Sweden's migration minister. ... Davis Love III went over $30 million in career money with his tie for second in the MCI Heritage. The others to surpass $30 million are Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. ... The Wachovia Championship has spared no expense in running a first-class tournament, and that extends to the trophy. The tournament commissioned Waterford Crystal in Ireland to create a trophy that is 20 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds. ... Chick-fil-A will no longer be the title sponsor of the LPGA Tour event after this year. Tournament officials say the tournament will continue with a multiyear commitment from Metro South Golf Charities.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Fourteen of the 16 events on the PGA Tour this year have been won by players who competed in the 2003 Presidents Cup.
 
FINAL WORD
``I think the American teams have a tendency to get uptight.'' -- Jack Nicklaus, U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup. The U.S. men have not won a cup competition since 2000.
 
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