Golf doesnt normally provide this sort of arena. But it came close Sunday in the build-up to the final round of the WGC-American Express Championship in Atlanta.
Playing in the last group together were Tiger Woods, who entered the last 18 holes at 8-under par, and Vijay Singh, who was in second place and two strokes back at 6-under.
Theres enough history between these two players to fill a two-volume set. And much of it isnt friendly. Way back in 1999 this same pair played the final two rounds together at The Memorial. Both shot 69 on the last day. Tiger held his two-shot lead and emerged with the victory.
What was most memorable was the number of impossible up-and-downs Woods converted in the last round. I played better golf than Tiger did today and he won, Singh said when it was over.
Does that sound like the kind of thing a friend says about another friend?
He (Singh) started to get a little more quiet, Woods said when asked about Singhs reaction to all his greenside prestidigitations. He wasnt as vocal at saying 'good shot'.
Does that sound like the kind of thing a friend says to another friend?
Fast forward to 2000 and the Presidents Cup matches at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia. This time Woods and Singh faced each other in four of the five matches. Woods won three. But he was irritated late Saturday afternoon in a four-ball loss to Singh and Retief Goosen when he noticed that Singhs caddie, Paul Tesori, was wearing a cap with the words Tiger Who? stitched on the back.
The next day Woods got his wish in the form of a draw that pitted him against Singh in the singles. In the aftermath of administering a 2-and-1 spanking of Singh, Woods admitted revenge was sweet. I wanted him, Woods said. And I know he wanted me.
Earlier this year Singh criticized the concept of Annika Sorenstam playing in a PGA Tour event at the Bank of America Colonial in Texas. Woods, who shares the same agent with Sorenstam, criticized Singhs criticism.
All of which served as prelude to Sundays grudge match. As competitions go, it never really materialized. Both Woods and Singh shot 2-over par 72s. Both made four bogeys. Stuart Appleby and Tim Herron snuck into a second-place share with Singh.
For all intents and purposes, Singhs hopes for Player of the Year evaporated. Woods now has a tour-leading five victories and he snatched first place on the money list away from Singh.
Late Sunday Woods didnt take the bait. He refused to gloat. And Player of the Year?
Right now, Woods said, it is still kind of up for grabs.
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