Singh Ready to Add US Open to Major Collection

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SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Vijay Singh has been playing too long and been successful too often to be nervous on the golf course anymore. The U.S. Open doesn't intimidate him, and neither do the dangers that lurk everywhere at Shinnecock Hills.
 
If anything, Singh seems almost giddy about putting his tee in the ground Thursday to begin the grind that is the U.S. Open.
 
'I'm eager to go out and play, and I'm eager to go out there and perform well,' Singh said. 'I'm playing as good as I've ever played, and I can't do any more than just go out there and try to win the golf tournament.'
 
Bold words, but Singh's game is now at the point where he can back them up.
 
At the age of 41, he's the No. 3-ranked player in the world, won three times already this year and is leading the money list for the second year in a row.
 
With Tiger Woods slumping, there's a void at the top and Singh may be the player who finally fills it.
 
Almost shockingly, if Woods somehow misses the cut and Singh wins the Open he would take over the No. 1 ranking Woods has held since 1999. But that's getting ahead of Singh's thought process, which right now only takes him through the weekend.
 
'I just want a chance to be right in there come Sunday,' Singh said.
 
A chance is exactly what Singh had last year in the Open at Olympia Fields, when he led after 36 holes before playing the final 21 holes in a whopping 11 over par. It was the latest in a string of major championship missed opportunities that has kept him stuck on two major titles ever since his 2000 Masters win.
 
'It's nobody's fault but mine not to win another major,' Singh said. 'It is frustrating, yes, but did I take the chances that I was given? No, I didn't.'
 
Singh acknowledged Wednesday that those chances might not be coming around much longer. He figures he has five or six years of top competitive golf left, which means his window of opportunity will slowly be closing.
 
But Singh is playing so well right now from tee to green that completing his personal Grand Slam by winning this week and then the British Open next month is a realistic goal.
 
'I feel like the next three majors I have a good chance of pulling one or two of them out,' Singh said.
 
Singh's game seems to suit Shinnecock Hills, a course that can be overpowered if the wind doesn't howl. He's No. 1 on the PGA Tour in greens hit, a statistic that plays big on a course where missing the green can quickly turn into disaster.
 
Singh's only negative so far this year has been his inconsistent putting, despite his adoption of the belly putter. If he's putting from the smooth surfaces just off the shaved greens, he could have problems.
 
'The greens are totally different than when we played in (1995, the last Open at Shinnecock),' Singh said. 'The surrounding of the greens are different, the balls are running 20, 30 yards off from the sides. So you've got to practice that part of the game, as well.'
 
Singh's game has been so dominant this year that he leads the money list with $4.6 million, has won three times and missed only one cut in 16 events. He's faded from contention on a couple of weekends, but he knows how hot it gets when the pressure is on.
 
'I'm dealing with pressure a little bit better this year than I did last year, and I think it's giving me a chance coming down the stretch,' Singh said.
 
What really gives him the chance, though, is the knowledge he might be the most consistent ball striker around. Singh practices relentlessly, driven out of a mixture of a desire to succeed and a fear of failure.
 
To Singh, the back nine of a major championship isn't scary. The thought that one day he may suddenly lose the golf swing he constantly tries to groove is.
 
'I don't want to wake up one day and say, `How am I supposed to play this game?'' Singh said.
 
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