Singh Cruises to Ninth Title


04 Chrysler ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Vijay Singh, the top-ranked player in the world, fired a 6-under 65 on Sunday to cruise to victory at the Chrysler Championship. He finished with an 18-under-par total of 266 and won by five over Tommy Armour III and Jesper Parnevik at the Copperhead Course at Westin Innisbrook Resort.
The win was Singh's ninth of the 2004 season and the $900,000 first-prize check made him the first in PGA Tour history to eclipse the $10 million mark in single-season earnings.
'It's hard to swallow it right now,' admitted Singh, who has banked $10,725,167 so far with next week's Tour Championship still to play. 'It's incredible. I leave tomorrow to go to Atlanta so there's no time to celebrate. I'll get my time.'
Armour, who established a PGA Tour record for lowest 72-hole score with a 254 at last year's Texas Open, shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday and tied Parnevik, who carded a 68 in the final round.
Joe Durant fired an 8-under 63 on Sunday and took fourth place at 12-under-par 272. Kirk Triplett, who played the 18th hole dressed as Parnevik, managed a 1-under 70 and took fifth at minus-11.
Even with Singh writing his name into the record book, the story of the event is who moved where on the PGA Tour money list. Since this is the final full-field tournament of the season, several people had a lot to play for on Sunday.
Parnevik sank a 20-footer for birdie at the last and Armour missed a short par putt that tied the two. It gave Parnevik an extra $100,000 and shot him to 40th on the final money list. That gets him an invitation to Augusta National for the 2005 Masters.
Kenny Perry shot a 4-under 67 and tied for eighth place at minus-9. His $145,000 in earnings vaulted him up to 29th and into next week's Tour Championship. Rod Pampling was 30th heading into the week, but fell to 31st.
Tag Ridings tallied six birdies on his back nine en route to a 7-under 64. He tied for 11th place and earned enough to reach magic No. 125 on the money list. The top-125 retain their PGA Tour cards for next season.
But while others were battling it out for next year, Singh put any doubts about who was going to hoist the trophy away early in the final round. He drained a 5-foot birdie putt at the first, then followed with an 8-foot birdie putt at two. Singh mixed a birdie and a bogey at five and six, but drained a 9-footer for birdie at the ninth to go ahead by three.
Singh rolled in a 3-footer for birdie at the 10th to match Armour and maintain his three-stroke edge. He padded the lead at the par-3 13th when his 4-footer found the bottom of the cup.
Things began to look mildly interesting at the 16th. Singh nearly drove into the water, then left his approach short of the green. His chip ran 12 feet past the cup, and Armour already made birdie to cut the lead to three. Singh stroked home the par save to stay three ahead.
Singh sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the last while Armour bogeyed, thus giving Singh a five-shot win. His 18-under-par 266 established a new tournament record, topping K.J. Choi's 2002 mark by a stroke.
'I was really focused out there. I didn't want this one to get away,' said Singh. 'I'm comfortable where I am. It's just been an enjoyable year. The wins keep coming.'
Singh now has 24 victories in his PGA Tour career, but can focus on one more record. If he can win next week at East Lake Golf Club, Singh would join Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead as the only players to win 10 tournaments in one year.
Former PGA Champion David Toms and Robert Allenby each posted rounds of 3-under 68 on Sunday and shared sixth place at minus-10. Perry was joined in a tie for eighth by Spike McRoy (68) and Carl Pettersson (69) at 9-under-par 275.
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