Singh Wants to Finish The Year Strong

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Funai Classic @ Disney WorldLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ken Griffey Jr. walked down the practice range Wednesday morning and stopped to watch Vijay Singh, two world-class athletes with not much else in common.
 
One guy rarely plays in the fall.
 
The other plays his best golf this time of the year.
 
Singh has won his last three PGA Tour events, and five of his last six. Next up is the Funai Classic at Disney, where he is the defending champion. Its the start of a three-week sprint to the end of the season, and the 41-year-old Fijian wants to finish strong.
 
Despite having wrapped up all the major awards, his goals are clear.
 
Already an eight-time winner on tour, Singh wants to reach 10 victories. Not since Sam Snead won 11 times in 1950 has anyone won so much in one year. Singh also is $544,434 away from becoming the first $10 million man in golf.
 
Theres three more tournaments to go and this so-called 10 mark they all talk about, Singh said. Id like to achieve that. I want to end on a high note. I just want to keep it going and see if its going to last.
 
I just dont want to see it end, put it that way.
 
Griffey, who lives nearby at Isleworth, reached his own milestone this year with his 500th career home run. But his season was cut short by injuries, the second straight year he spent September on the disabled list.
 
Singh is relentless, and he really seems to surge in the fall. He started his ascent to No. 1 in the world about this time last year when he won Disney. He has won 12 times the last two seasons, with five of those victories coming in the final two months of the season.
 
There is nobody out there working harder than him, Chris DiMarco said.
 
Singh already has played 26 tournaments and will finish the year by playing Disney, next week in Tampa (he finished second last year), followed by the season-ending Tour Championship.
 
I dont really look at stats and look at how many tournaments Ive won, Singh said. Youve got to be really focused on what youre doing. My focus is on this event. I try not to get complacent.
 
Tiger Woods was in this spot five years ago.
 
A victory in the PGA Championship gave fresh legs to his year, and Woods finished it off in style by returning from a break to win the final three tournaments of the year.
 
Singh is hardly coming off a break.
 
He took a week off after winning the 84 Lumber Classic, then played consecutive weeks in cold weather on the European tour. He tied for 20th at the Dunhill Links in Scotland, then lost in the first round to Bernhard Langer at the World Match Play Championship in England.
 
Singh is the big favorite this week for a couple of reasons'he is No. 1 in the world for the seventh straight week, and he is the only player in the top 10 at Disney.
 
Woods, who has fallen to No. 3 in the world, is skipping Disney for the first time since he turned pro in 1996. He got married Oct. 5 in Barbados and decided to extend his honeymoon, still on his yacht somewhere in the Caribbean. Davis Love III, Mike Weir, David Toms and others who usually play at Disney are taking this week off.
 
Then again, it might not matter the way Singh is playing.
 
I dont think Vijay is really hoping that he gets it going this week, Billy Andrade said. Hes been doing it, having a phenomenal year. Hes been doing it every week. I think he knows hes going to play great. Hes got something we aint got. Its been pretty impressive to see what hes accomplished.
 
Hopefully, he wont continue it here.
 
Andrade is one of about three dozen players who have reason to hope Singh doesnt have his best week. While the 41-year-old Fijian is closing in on $10 million, guys at the bottom of the ladder are worried more about $600,000, the amount it could take to keep their PGA Tour cards for next year.
 
Except for Mark OMeara and Notah Begay (both injured), every player from No. 114 to No. 143 on the PGA Tour money list is playing at Disney with hopes of securing a spot in the top 125.
 
Andrade is no stranger to the bubble.
 
He wrapped up his card last year in Las Vegas with an eighth-place finish. Four years ago, he was headed back to qualifying school until he won Las Vegas to get a two-year exemption. But he rarely has gone this deep into the season with so much on the line.
 
Andrade relishes what most players dread.
 
I think its kind of fun, Andrade said. I kind of enjoy the fact that you have to go out and play, and you have to find a way to get it in the hole. And thats something I havent done very well this year.
 
Thats something to which Singh cannot relate.
 
Singh hit the $600,000 mark the first week of the season'a runner-up finish at the Mercedes Championships'and he has been rolling ever since to heights he never imagined.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Funai Classic at Walt Disney World
     
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”