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Singh Looks to Spark Hot Streak

2006 Shell Houston OpenHUMBLE, Texas -- Vijay Singh is winless in 17 starts on the PGA Tour, his longest victory drought in four years.
He can snap out of it this week at the event where he ended his last long dry spell, the Shell Houston Open.
'I've got good feelings over here,' Singh said. 'I've had great success in Houston.'
Singh won the 2000 Masters, then went 50 starts without a victory before setting the tournament scoring record at the TPC at the Woodlands in 2002.
The tournament moved to Redstone Golf Club in 2003. Singh finished ninth that year, then regained his Texas touch, winning in 2004 and last year, beating John Daly in a playoff.
The event is once again at Redstone, but it has shifted across the street to The Tournament Course, a 7,422-yard, Rees Jones-designed layout that was completed in August 2005.
'They keep changing the golf course on me,' Singh said.
Singh knows what he has to do to win again -- and that's the frustrating part. He said his eighth-place finish in the Masters illustrates why he hasn't won since the Buick Open last August.
'I'm just not playing well enough to win on Sunday,' he said. 'There are too many mistakes. I play two or three holes that really put me down. That's what's been happening.'
Singh is still the favorite in Houston, the top-ranked player in the field.
The rest of golf's Big Five -- Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els -- are skipping Houston and only three others among the top 30 in the world ranking are here: Darren Clarke, the 2004 runner-up to Singh; Padraig Harrington; and David Toms, who helped design the new course with Jones.
'I feel like I'm due,' Singh said. 'I'm playing well enough to win. It's (a matter of) putting everything together.'
Singh had a mixed review of the new course, with its wide fairways and large, undulating greens.
'Under the gun, you can play for the middle of the greens and be OK. That's one little issue,' he said. 'Apart from that, I think it's OK.'
The players expect to score well if the wind stay down.
'The course could be vulnerable if it's soft and still,' said Stuart Appleby, the 1999 champion. 'But if it's the opposite, firm and breezy, guys will be doing a lot of thinking.'
Appleby said the course is 'very predictable,' meant as a compliment.
'It's not a tricky golf course,' he said. 'You go out there and it's inviting, but it's penalizing if you make a mistake.'
Toms appreciates any comments he can get this week. He worked on the layout with Jones, the son of renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, and wants to become an architect after he's done playing.
'I'd like to know what each and every player thinks,' Toms said. 'I wish I had some kind of a questionnaire I could put in their locker on just what they think about each hole, which ones might not necessarily fit the eye and which ones they like.
'This is one of first golf courses that I was very involved in,' he said. 'I don't want it to be the last.'
One of Toms' suggestions was a 'risk-reward' par 4 and the result was the 338-yard 12th. It's reachable with a big drive, but a pond lurks down the right side and will swallow any tee shots that veer right.
The course has plenty of lengthy holes, too.
The front nine ends with a 238-yard par 3, the 15th is a 608-yard par 5 and the 17th and 18th are both 480-plus-yard par 4s.
'If I had it in a perfect world, I'd like 12 under par to win the tournament,' Toms said. 'I've always said if you can do that, you've challenged the players, but they're not playing the U.S. Open, either.'
The course is open to the public and Toms said he and Jones tried to strike the balance between a tour-caliber test that also was reasonable for average players.
'It's hard to make a golf course that will please everybody,' Toms said. 'What you try to do is make one that everybody can play and then it doesn't necessarily play into one person's type of game. That's what we tried to do here.'
A golf instruction center near the 18th hole was dedicated to renowned teaching pro Dick Harmon, who died Feb. 10. The 58-year-old Harmon was the director of golf at Redstone. His clients included Fred Couples, Craig Stadler and Lanny Wadkins. ... Shell said Wednesday it has renewed its tournament sponsorship through 2011.
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