Notes Singh to Take Over No 1 Without Playing

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Vijay Singh no longer worries about who's No. 1, saying recently that it seems as though he has to win five times to reach the top. Next week ought to really confuse him.
 
Singh will get to the top by not playing at all.
 
Tiger Woods is No. 1 this week by .08 points. However, Woods will lose more points because of the gradual reduction that takes place every 13 weeks, meaning Singh is assured of returning to No. 1. Both players are off until the Memorial the first week of June.
 
Tigers Timing
One reason Tiger Woods makes so many clutch putts is a routine that never changes.
 
After he made one of the most pressure-packed putts of his career, a 15-footer in the dark that wound up salvaging a tie at the Presidents Cup in South Africa, his father spoke of the process Woods follows.
 
'When he gets over the ball and starts his procedure, watch him after he sets his putter,'' Earl Woods said in a November 2003 interview. ``He checks his alignment. He adjusts his feet. He takes one look, another look and then strokes the ball.''
 
The routine is the same whether it's a 10-foot par putt in the second round of the Memorial or a 6-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship to force a playoff.
 
He doesn't make them all, which is why he missed the cut at the Byron Nelson Championship to end his record streak at 142 consecutive tournaments in the money. But he has made more big putts than any player of his generation.
 
On the eve of the Nelson, Woods smiled and nodded when told of his father's comments.
 
'Sometimes when I really got locked into what I'm doing, you can put a stopwatch on it,'' Woods said.
 
That sounded like a good idea.
 
So, during his second round at Cottonwood Valley, Woods' putting routine was timed on three straight holes -- Nos. 4, 5 and 7. The clock started after he got over the ball and set his putter on the green.
 
He takes two quick practice strokes without stopping the putter. He steps to the ball and takes his first look at the hole. Then he adjusts his feet and takes a second look. Then he takes a third look and pulls the trigger.
 
On a 6-foot par putt at No. 4, the routine took 18.1 seconds (made it).
 
On a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 6, it took 18.0 seconds (made it).
 
On an 8-foot birdie putt at No. 7, the process took 18.2 seconds (missed it).
 
Earls Woods said one other thing about his son's routine with the putter.
 
'It requires trust in your ability and no hesitation,'' he said. ``And it requires the ability to accept the results.''
 
Woods was put on the clock one other time last Friday, on the 18th hole over his 15-foot par putt to extend his record. The putt just missed to the right.
 
The process took 19.3 seconds.
 
LEFTY'S LAMENT
Phil Mickelson had planned to play in the Memorial for the first time since 2002, but that changed when he learned Pinehurst No. 2 will not be closed to the public until Memorial Day.
 
Instead, Mickelson is playing at Colonial this week.
 
No one prepares for a major quite like Lefty. He often takes up to eight hours for each practice round, studying every conceivable angle around the green and filling his yardage book with notes. That's tough to do with regular paying customers on the course.
 
Mickelson can't go to Pinehurst early in the week of Memorial because the pro-am at Muirfield Village is on a Tuesday, and PGA Tour policy requires players to take part in the pro-am if they want to play in the tournament.
 
STAYING PUT
Thomas Bjorn finished 73rd on the money list in his first year as a PGA Tour member, but he declined to take up membership this year and doubts he ever will again.
 
Bjorn has three young children, including twins, and can get home to them most Sunday nights when playing the European tour. His family has no desire to leave Wentworth, and he has no interest in spending up to a month at a time away from them.
 
I've tried America and it didn't work for me,'' Bjorn told reporters after winning the British Masters. We're happy in England, and if I'm not taking my family there, then I'm not going to play a full schedule there. If I was 22 and single, I'd be over there like a shot. But I'm not. I have a wife and three kids.''

Bjorn said he still planned to play about 10 times on the PGA Tour, mostly around the majors.
 
CORPORATE OUTINGS
The outrage over corporate outings -- some called it appearance money -- has died since the Ford Championship at Doral.
 
But it was interesting to note that Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk and Canadian star Mike Weir joined Vijay Singh at a ``corporate outing'' Monday at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, site of the Canadian Open in September. Singh is the defending champion.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in late March that he was working on additional guidelines that would clear up the perception of appearance money on the PGA Tour, although it would not have a ``chilling effect.''
 
What became of those new guidelines?
 
Henry Hughes, chief operating officer for the PGA Tour, said Tuesday they will be presented to the policy board at the end of the month. He declined to go into specifics pending the approval.
 
It's not a change,'' Hughes said. 'It's really a guideline better explaining our existing policy regarding appearance money. We just felt we needed a guideline that puts stronger emphasis on the details of the regulation.''
 
DIVOTS
This is a big week for Colin Montgomerie. Not only is he trying to get into the top 50 in the world to avoid U.S. Open qualifying, this is the first time a European tour event will be played on a course he designed. The Irish Open will be held at Carton House near Dublin, which opened two years ago. 'I've 155 potential critics, but it has been ranked the No. 1 new course in Europe, never mind just Great Britain and Ireland,'' Monty said. 'So double bogeys aren't my fault.'' Unless they're his. ... PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been elected to the board of directors for KB Home. ... James Dodson's book, 'Ben Hogan, An American Life,'' has won the USGA's 2004 International Book Award.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh has shot all four rounds in the 60s twice this year without winning, in the Ford Championship at Doral (68-67- 68-66) and in the Byron Nelson Championship (68-67-69-65). Both times he tied for third.
 
FINAL WORD
I wouldn't be able to do that in two lifetimes.'' -- Vijay Singh, with 27 career victories, on Sam Snead's record 83 victories on the PGA Tour.
 
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