Big Fijian Derives Strength from Desire

By Associated PressJanuary 8, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- First came his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. A week later brought an end to his worst season in five years on the PGA TOUR, and what appeared to be the beginning of the end to Vijay Singh.
 
'I think he was out to prove that wasn't the case,' Davis Love III said.
 
The proof was in Singh's two-shot victory in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, a command performance in which Singh didn't make a bogey over the final 29 holes and never let anyone closer than two shots to him over the final 25 holes.
 
And it was no accident.
 
Morning and evening for two weeks on the Big Island, he pounded his body in the gym. During the day, he spent five hours on the practice range hitting some 400 balls, leaving enough time for him to play 18 holes. Then he flew over to Maui determined to remind the winners-only field that he has not gone away.
 
'I wanted this win, and I practiced hard for it,' said Singh, who turns 44 next month. 'I worked hard and it paid off.'
 
His work ethic is now legendary in golf circles.
 
Adam Scott figured it out quickly when he joined the PGA TOUR and noticed that Singh didn't leave the practice range before dark. Davis Love III rarely goes to the gym without seeing Singh, 'and I'm sure he's in there when I'm not.'
 
More than sheer work, however, Singh's legacy might be his desire.
 
He already considers it a miracle that someone could grow in Fiji and win on the PGA TOUR. Even more astounding is that Sunday was his 30th career victory, tied for 16th on the career list with Leo Diegel.
 
And he now has won 18 times since turning 40, breaking the record held by Sam Snead.
 
Singh wasn't impressed.
 
'There's no trophies for doing it,' he said. 'Really, it's just a record created by who? It's not even a record. It's just numbers.'
 
But put that in perspective.
 
Love has won 19 times (one major) in his career. Singh is one victory away from doing that in his 40s.
 
'And everyone looks at Davis as having a great career,' Luke Donald said. 'If you keep yourself fit, age isn't a factor and he's a testament to that. It's hard to have that dedication for so long, that desire to want to succeed. Let's face it, we all get lazy from time to time. Vijay seems to bypass that and continues to work hard to get better.'
 
Johnny Miller once said the difference between him and Jack Nicklaus was that Miller once reached the top of the mountain and wondered what else there was to prove, while Nicklaus reached the top and looked for the next mountain.
 
Singh knows the feeling.
 
He reached his peak in 2004 when he won nine times and replaced Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world, holding the top spot for the better part of six months until Woods went on one of his tears.
 
Singh has a constant battle with his putting, and then his swing started to leave him. But he never lost his desire.
 
'It's easy to fall off the top,' he said. 'Once you're sliding down, you've got to have something to hold onto. My physical condition probably kept me there. If I wasn't strong enough, once you mentally get a little frustrated, you can just slide off so quickly. The good news is I'm fresh and I'm really looking forward to the season.
 
'I'm quite happy with the way I'm feeling right now.'
 
For the longest time, Love was motivated by how well Nicklaus played in his 40s. He won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship at age 40, then captured his sixth Masters title in 1986 at age 46. Love also was inspired by good friend Jay Haas, who qualified for the TOUR Championship when he was 50.
 
'This is now the standard of never saying, 'I'm done,'' Love said of Singh. 'It's pretty incredible. He doesn't get injured very much. He's good at what he does, and he's very efficient. If he wasn't that strong, or that supple, he might not be able to do that.'
 
The next question is how much longer Singh can play at this level.
 
He was approaching his 40th birthday when he set out to become No. 1 in the world, a goal that seemed laughable considering his age (39), his world ranking (No. 7) and the fact Woods had won the Masters, U.S. Open and was runner-up at the PGA Championship that year.
 
Two years and 13 victories later, Singh was No. 1.
 
'He's a great ball-striker; he hits enough balls, he ought to be,' Scott said. 'But he's pretty good at everything. You don't get to where he's gotten being average.'
 
The odds are against Singh reaching that pinnacle again, mainly because Woods shows no sign of letting up. The world's No. 1 player skipped Kapalua, and will go after his seventh consecutive PGA TOUR victory in three weeks at the Buick Invitational.
 
Singh sets no limits to what he can do.
 
'Fred Funk won a golf tournament when he was 48, and I'm a lot bigger and a lot stronger than Freddie Funk,' Singh said. 'So if he can win at 48, what makes me think I'm not going to win when I'm 50? I'm not looking that far ahead. Right now, I'm just looking at the way I feel and I'm going to continue to work hard at my physical shape.
 
'If I'm healthy and playing the way I'm doing right now ... five, six, 10 years, I don't know. I'm just going to keep going.'

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    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”