Tiger-like Year for Vijay

By Associated PressSeptember 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)OAKVILLE, Ontario -- Tiger Woods has put himself in some peculiar positions this year.
He has struggled just to make the cut. Tee shots have ricocheted off corporate tents and small children. He has spent Sunday afternoons cleaning out his locker, not standing on the 18th green posing with the trophy.
The strangest sight of all is No. 2 next to his name in the world ranking.
Vijay SinghWoods record streak as the best player in golf -- 264 consecutive weeks at No. 1 -- came to an end at the Deutsche Bank Championship when Vijay Singh turned in a performance that even a computer couldnt dispute.
It was just a matter of time before the 41-year-old Fijian got his due.
It was the manner in which Singh reached the pinnacle of his amazing career that made it even sweeter.
Tied with Woods down the stretch on the TPC at Boston, with the gallery expecting Woods to respond to the most imminent threat to his throne, Singh pulled away with three birdies on the final five holes to win by three shots and become only the 12th player to be No. 1 in the 18-year history of the world ranking.
Ive achieved what I wanted to do, Singh said. I won a major. I won quite a lot of tournaments, and at the same time became No. 1 in the world. The whole season has been a great one.
His season looks like the kind that once only belonged to Woods.
Singhs six PGA Tour victories are three times as many as anyone else. With two months left in the season, he already is a lock to win player of the year. He has a $2.2 million lead on the money list, and with at least five more tournaments to play, is a cinch to win his second straight money title.
What next?
If Singh were to follow the script, he would hit a 6-iron from 218 yards out of a fairway bunker and over the water to birdie the final hole at Glen Abbey this week and win the Canadian Open.
That was the signature shot of Woods record-breaking season in 2000. He won nine times, earned more than $9 million and set himself so far apart from everyone else that it seemed his next challenge would come from someone who had not even been born.
It seems only fitting that the Canadian Open celebrates its 100th anniversary by returning to the Abbey with the No. 1 player in the world as the star attraction.
And there are shades of 2000.
Singh has won nearly $7.9 million, already the second-highest total in PGA Tour history. He still has the American Express Championship ($7 million) and the Tour Championship ($6 million) on his schedule, which leaves him in excellent position to break Woods single-season earnings record of $9,188,321.
He needs three more victories to match Woods nine PGA Tour titles in 2000, which is not out of reach considering Singh has won three of his last four starts and is rarely far from the top of the leaderboard.
Tiger WoodsHis confidence has never been lacking, especially now.
It doesnt matter who it is, Singh said. If Im playing my best, I can beat anybody. I have never been one who is intimidated by Tiger. Then again, if you are playing poorly, it is intimidating to play against him when he is playing well.
Woods hasnt played his best this year.
Four times he has gone into the second round with everyone wondering if he would make the cut. His drought in the majors is up to 10, but more troubling is that he has only given himself two good chances to win during that stretch.
But the change at the top of the ranking has more to do with Singh.
Woods was at his best in Boston'The best ball-striking week of the year, Woods said.
Singh was simply better.
That makes Singhs accomplishment even more rewarding. With another chance to become No. 1 in the world, Singh went head-to-head with the best player in command of his shots.
Earlier in the year, that wasnt the case.
Singh first closed in on Woods by winning Pebble Beach in February. Woods returned from a four-month break and outplayed him in the next three tournaments, including a victory at the Match Play Championship.
Singh won back-to-back weeks in New Orleans and Houston while Woods was away, again getting closer than ever to No. 1 in the world. Again, Woods answered the challenge by finishing no worse than third in his next three tournaments, each time leaving Singh behind.
But right when it looked like Ernie Els had emerged as the chief threat to No. 1, Singh beat Woods at the Buick Open, beat everyone in a playoff at the PGA Championship and then left no doubt by taking on Woods in the final group of the final round at the Deutsche Bank.
Singh will stay No. 1 for the rest of the month, maybe the rest of the year. And now he faces the burden that Woods knows all too well.
What does he do for an encore?
As for Woods, at least now everyone can believe him when he says hes close.
He is only .45 points behind Singh in the world ranking.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”