Vijay Continues Dominance

By Associated PressNovember 1, 2004, 5:00 pm
PGA TourPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Vijay Singh scaled the mountain two months ago when he beat Tiger Woods in a final-round duel outside Boston to become No. 1 in the world.
Vijay SinghTurns out that was only the start.
In his most dominant performance of an incredible year, Singh birdied the first two holes and never let anyone get within two shots of him the rest of the day. He closed with a 6-under 65 to set the tournament record at the Chrysler Championship and win by five shots, the largest margin of his nine PGA Tour victories this year.
That's right -- nine victories.
'The wins keeps coming, and I'm enjoying every bit of it,' Singh said.
He became only the sixth player with that many victories, joining a list of legends and one contemporary -- Paul Runyan, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Woods.
And he claimed one spot all for himself -- the first $10 million man in golf.
'I'm not one for stats. I'm not one to keep records,' Singh said. 'I just know it's been an incredible year for me. I haven't really sat down and thought about it, what I've done. I'll only enjoy it when the season is over.'
Singh was introduced as a $10 million man, sweet words for a guy who once made $10 a lesson as the resident club pro in the rain forests of Borneo.
'That's a new one,' Singh said. 'It's a good one, though.'
It was another great performance, his sixth victory in his last eight starts on the PGA Tour.
With a one-shot lead over Tommy Armour III, Singh got up-and-down for a birdie on the par-5 opening hole, then rolled in an 8-footer for birdie on No. 2. With his lead down to two as he was approaching the turn, Singh fired a sand wedge into 10 feet for a birdie on the ninth hole, then stuffed another one to 3 feet on the 10th.
He finished in style with a birdie from the fairway bunker on No. 18, putting him at 18-under 266. That broke by one the tournament record set by K.J. Choi in 2002.
Singh earned $900,000, finishing five shots ahead of Armour (69) and Jesper Parnevik (68). Joe Durant had the best round Sunday with a 63 to finish fourth, one shot ahead of Kirk Triplett (70).
Armour was asked what was so impressive about the Fijian.
'He's inside of you on every hole,' he said. 'You're going to have to take it from him. He's not going to give it to you. That's what happened.'
Armour unknowingly was in the giving mood.
His three-putt from 30 feet -- the par putt was only 3 feet -- dropped him into a two-way tie for second. That was the difference of $100,000, enough to allow Parnevik to finish No. 40 on the money list and qualify for the Masters.
The Chrysler Championship was the final full-field tournament of the year, the last chance for players to finish in the top 30 on the money list to qualify for the Tour Championship; the top 40 to get into the Masters; the top 125 to secure tour cards for next year; and the top 150 to get a pass to final stage of Q-school.
The other winners:
--Kenny Perry shot 67 to move up two spots to No. 29 and go to East Lake next week.
--Parnevik nudged out Joey Sindelar, who missed the cut, by $13,254.
--Tag Ridings made seven birdies on the last 10 holes for a 64 to finish No. 125.
--Jeff Brehaut made a birdie putt on the last hole that moved him up two spots to No. 149.
Reflection for Singh will have to wait. He has another event next week -- the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake -- and another chance to win.
'I'm not going to show up there and feel relaxed,' Singh said. 'I'm going to be just as intense as I've ever been. I'm looking to go there and play well in the golf tournament. If it happens, that's another story.'
No, it will be the same story.
Singh has $10,725,166, more than $5 million ahead of Phil Mickelson. The Tour Championship gives him a chance to make it a 10-10 season with his 10th victory.
Only Byron Nelson (18 wins in 1945), Ben Hogan (13 in 1946, 10 in 1948) and Sam Snead (11 in 1951) have won that often on the PGA Tour.
And keep this in mind: Singh won at East Lake in 2002, the start of his great run. He played in the final pairing with Woods in 2000, and he lost in a playoff to Hal Sutton in 1998.
Woods will be playing for the first time since he got married, but he has become a distant memory in dominance. The last two years have been about Singh, who at 41 shows no signs of slowing.
If there was a turning point in his amazing run, it might have been last year when he won the money title but narrowly lost out on PGA Tour player of the year.
'I thought I had a chance of winning it last year, so to come back this year ... that's incredible,' Singh said. 'The money list two years in a row is a big achievement, as well.'
The list of achievements is getting long. Singh has one week remaining in his PGA Tour season. Then, he might finally have time to appreciate everything he has done.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

The Monday morning headline will be …

REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

What will be the winning score?

HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”