The Man Who Would Be Singh

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The critics were poised and the knives were out.

But when the rain stopped and the winds died at Kapalua the plotline turned out to be a preferred lie.

Vijay Singh had plummeted to No. 7 in the world at the end of 2006. He would be turning 44 in a matter of weeks. He had once again resorted to the belly putter, clearly an act of more desperation. And he had not been able to hold the 54-hole lead the last two times he had slept on it.

The field had, in fact, played preferred lies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the weather-challenged, season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Maui. Lift, clean and cheat, the players call it.

But in the end, the only cheating going on was what Singh did, once again, to Father Time.

Anybody that says 43 is old, Singh said Sunday after winning his 18th PGA TOUR tournament past his 40th birthday, ..they can go to hell.

Maybe thats it. Maybe Singh has cut a deal with the devil. Maybe the fact that he ceaselessly pounded the ball long off the tee while leading the field in putting was simply a testament to his talent.

In any event, the go to hell comment was all very vintage Singh, at his coldest and most defiant. And it followed Singh at his hottest on the course. His Thursday 69 elbowed him into a tie for the lead after 18 holes. He never trailed, at the end of a day, again.

Now he finds himself $1.1 million, 4,500 FedExCup points and one Mercedes richer. In a year that ends in 007, Veej is a secret agent of prolonged youth. Nobody else knows the formula. Nobody else has quite cracked the code the way he has.

Singh. Vijay Singh.

Everybody else in the elite field at the Plantation Course was shaken, not stirred.

The big Fijian with the languidly powerful golf swing has now bounced back to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Meanwhile, David Toms claimed the years first back-door top-10 with a closing 67 that turned out to be the low round of the week. Will Mackenzie birdied the 72nd hole and capped an exciting weeks ride that included three straight birdies and second place all by himself at one point early Sunday. Willy Mack wound up tied for fourth.

Adam Scott, who was bidding to become the first player since Tiger Woods to conquer Kapalua after winning the previous TOUR Championship, came second to Singh after undoing himself with a three-putt on the 71st hole. He did, however, jump past the absent Phil Mickelson and into the No. 3 spot in the world rankings.

Singhs 69-69-70-70 was 14 under par for four days and two shots clear of the field. And it shouted from the Hawaiian treetops that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Its still going, he said of the remarkable run that has been his Hall of Fame career.

Singh said his plan all week long was to hit it solid in the winds that blew and blew and blew. That sounds like, and is, a golf bromide. But when was the last time you saw any top player get beaten up at any venue by hitting it solid four days in a row?

Mickelson, shows up on the PGA TOUR, for the first time this year, the week after next. Tiger Woods is scheduled to debut seven days after that.

The message of the moment from Vijay Singh, 43 years young and still going strong, is a clear one: Bring it on.

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