Third Times the Charm for Singh


ATLANTA ' This time Vijay Singh got the better of East Lake.
Feeling the course owed me one, Singh received payment in full Sunday, capturing his first Tour Championship title, along with a $900,000 first-place check.
Singh stamped his season by shooting 3-under 67 to win his 11th PGA Tour title. He finished at 12-under-par 268, one off the tournament record, and two clear of Charles Howell III, whose Sunday 66 made him the only player in the 30-man field to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.
'Besides the majors and (The Players Championship),' Singh said, 'I think this is one of the best tournaments to win. I am really proud to win this one.'
Premium Video - Subscription Required Vijay talks about his win at the Tour Championship.
David Toms (67) finished third, at 7-under, to earn his 12th top-10 of the season without a win.
Singhs second victory of the year was especially sweet considering his past at this venue. Twice before he had taken at least a share of the lead into the final round, only to come up short on both occasions.
'I'm just proud to win this trophy that owed me,' he said. 'The last two times I came over here, I thought I was going to win it. But finally, I've done it and it's really something that I am going to cherish.'
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing together for the second time this week, failed to factor. Woods double-bogeyed the first hole after his approach shot from the rough sailed the green. It took two more swings to finally reach the putting surface, and two more swipes to get it in the hole.
'I didn't really drive it very good today,' Woods said. 'Just one of those things where I couldn't get the ball in play.'
The 1999 champion hit only four of 14 fairways Sunday in shooting even-par 70. He tied for seventh, at 4-under. Woods officially ended the 2002 season with five wins - including the Masters and U.S. Open - 10 top-5s and $6,908,875 in 18 tour starts.
'It's been a great year,' he assessed. 'Winning two majors in a year - one major in a year is a great year, and I'm lucky enough to get two.'
Mickelson, who like Woods started five off the pace, played an un-Lefty-like round. He made 17 pars and a birdie for a 69 to finish tied for fifth, at minus 5.
Likewise, Howell, who was playing for the first time in the final pairing on a Sunday, was stagnant from the start, making one bogey and 10 pars out of the gates. He finally made birdie at the 12th, and then followed it up by flying in a pitching wedge from 115 yards for eagle at the par-4 13th. However, he never got closer than two of Singh all day.
'I had quite a few putts there on the front side where if I could have made them, it would have changed things,' Howell said.
Jerry Kelly, who shot 67 to finish fourth, shaved five strokes off his overnight deficit by recording a pair of birdies on the front side, and an ace at the 203-yard par-3 11th. The hole-in-one got him to 7-under, and one off the lead.
That was as close as anyone would get to Singh. After missing three putts inside of five feet, he finally made his first birdie of the day at the par-5 ninth. That was the catalyst he needed.
Singh made a second straight birdie at the 10th, and then nearly matched Kellys ace at 11. In less than a half-hour, he had turned a meek lead of one into a healthy advantage of four.
Howell tried to make a run by shooting a back-nine 30, but Singh kept him at bay with a birdie at the par-5 15th and three closing pars.
'It seemed like every time I hit a good shot, especially on the back nine, he was right there to answer it,' said Howell, who added he was far from disappointed with his runner-up finish.
'Today is what I have dreamed of forever,' he said. 'Apart from walking up the 18th green here and winning, this is all I could ever ask for.
'I could have keeled over dead on the 18th green and died a happy man. It doesn't get any better than that for me.'
Singh said he 'hit the ball probably the best all week' on Sunday. He credited his mental approach as well for the victory.
'I was really focused out there,' he said. 'I just played my own game and let it take care of itself.'
Despite not winning a major this season, Singh captured two tour titles, including the Shell Houston Open. He earned a career-best $3,756,563, and finished inside the top five on the money list for the fifth consecutive year.
'It's a good achievement,' Singh said of ending the season third in earnings. 'I'm looking forward to next year now.'
Final results from The Tour Championship