Singh Stays Hot Wins Pebble Beach

By Associated PressFebruary 8, 2004, 5:00 pm
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Vijay Singh stood on the 18th green with the crystal in his hands, a trophy he has wanted to hold ever since he first set foot on Pebble Beach.
It might not be long before he has the prize he really wants -- replacing Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world.
Singh blew away the field Sunday in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, making birdies on the first three holes, hitting a spectacular 4-iron into the most daunting green on the course and spending the rest of the day soaking up the sunshine on the Monterey Peninsula.
It was his third victory in his last nine PGA Tour events, and his 12 consecutive finish in the top 10, the best record of anyone over the last six months.
Does it make him the best player?
''My ranking doesn't say that,'' Singh said. ''I'm No. 2. I'm playing the best I can. I want to be No. 1 before I finish. But it's a hard feat to take Tiger off the top because he's playing well.
''If I keep playing like I'm doing now, I have a shot -- maybe not this year, but in a year or two.''
At this rate, it might be sooner than he thinks.
Singh closed with a 3-under 69, avoiding a near-disaster on the par-3 17th when he nearly blasted over the green and into the ocean while trying to win the Pro-Am portion of the tournament with investment tycoon Teddy Forstmann.
Despite bumpy greens that kept Woods away, Singh managed to make 25 birdies for the week. He hit the flag twice in the final round, and would have done it a third time, except his chip on No. 10 was so true it dropped in the cup.
Singh finished at 16-under 262, three shots ahead of Jeff Maggert.
Maggert overcame a four-putt for double bogey on No. 16 with birdies on his last two holes for a 69.
Phil Mickelson also had a 69 and finished third, his third top-10 in as many starts this year.
That's nothing compared with Singh, who ran his streak to 12 consecutive finishes in the top 10 dating to the NEC Invitational in August. He is two away from the modern-day record set by Jack Nicklaus in 1977.
''It kind of reminds me of the streak Tiger was on a few years ago when he won the four majors in a row,'' Maggert said. ''It was like all he had to do was show up and he was going to shoot 5 or 6 under. That kind of reminds me of the way Vijay is playing.''
Singh, who earned $954,000 for his 16th career victory, is firmly entrenched at No. 2 in the World Ranking.
But the gap keeps shrinking.
Singh ended Woods' four-year reign of the PGA Tour money title last year, and has shown no signs of letting up.
Scott McCarron might have a good idea.
''I think we're about ready to take up a collection and send him on a paid vacation,'' he said.
Singh on vacation?
Even during a two-week break over the holidays, he walked around the house with a club, honing his swing.
Singh now heads south to Torrey Pines for the Buick Invitational, where Woods is the defending champion.
''I'm going to go out there next week and start all over,'' Singh said. ''It doesn't matter who is playing in the field. If I play my game, everything will be cool.''
Singh started the final round tied with Arron Oberholser, who was playing in the final group in a PGA Tour event for the first time and got an education playing against Singh.
After hooking his opening tee shot into deep rough, Singh hit an approach that hopped off a knob over the bunker, rolled toward the cup and nicked the pin before stopping a few feet away for a tap-in birdie. He hooked his next tee shot, then missed the green by 60 yards, but pitched to 10 feet for another birdie.
And after missing the fairway to the left on No. 3, he hit into 10 feet on the fringe and holed that for birdie.
''The man snap-hooked his first three drives and made birdies,'' Oberholser said. ''It's hard to compete with that.''
The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has a short history of guys who get off to a great start, but it's usually someone from the middle of the pack -- Woods from five shots behind in 2000, Davis Love III from seven shots behind a year later.
This time, the big move came from the top -- and it led to a runaway.
There was a brief moment when it looked as though Singh might be challenged.
The eighth hole has one of the most daunting approach shots in golf, over part of the ocean to a small green that slopes severely to the front. Maggert had a 10-foot birdie putt to get within two shots, with Singh still back in the fairway. The putt caught the right lip, and Singh effectively ended the tournament with another great shot.
His 4-iron stopped 4 feet from the cup for a birdie, and everyone around him started falling back.
Oberholser's approach on No. 8 came up short, down the cliff. He had to take a drop and made double bogey for a three-shot swing that dropped him six shots behind.
Oberholser closed with a 76 and tied for fourth, matching his best finish on tour.
The gallery had nothing to do the rest of the day except to soak up the sunshine, watch seals frolic in the Pacific and appreciate the game of a golfer in full flight.
Divots:@ Charles Howell III suffered from food poisoning overnight and wasn't sure he could play the final round. He got in all 18 holes, closing with back-to-back bogeys for a 72. ... Jerry Kelly and Robert Halmi won the pro-am portion of the tournament at 34 under. Singh and Teddy Forstmann finished two shots behind. ... Mickelson has over $1.3 million in three starts, about $285,000 less than what he made all of last year.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
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    Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

    By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

    Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

    She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

    Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

    After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

    “The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

    Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

    It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

    “I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

    Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    “The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

    Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

    It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

    “I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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    Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

    The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

    ''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

    She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

    ''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

    Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

    ''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

    Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

    Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

    Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

    ''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

    She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

    ''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

    Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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    DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

    By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

    Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

    “He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

    WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

    Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

    The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

    It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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    Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

    By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

    BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

    Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

    ''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

    He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

    Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

    ''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

    Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

    ''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

    Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

    ''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

    Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

    Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

    Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.