Vijay Singh to leave IMG after 18 years

By Doug FergusonAugust 25, 2009, 4:00 pm
The BarclaysJERSEY CITY, N.J. ' Vijay Singh has changed putters and caddies throughout his career. Now comes one of the more significant changes. The 46-year-old Fijian is leaving his management company.
 
Singh says he has ended his management agreement with IMG. He will use longtime adviser David Lightner of FSM Capital and Charley Moore, a former IMG agent who now is an operating partner of New York-based Falconhead Capital.
 
Singh had been with IMG for 18 years and was close friends with IMG owner Ted Forstman, his frequent partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
I have been represented by IMG for quite some time and am thankful for their years of service, Singh said in a statement. I have many good friends there, and nothing is changing at that level. However, I feel this is the appropriate time to take my career management in a new direction. I spoke with Teddy last week, who is a personal friend, and we had a productive conversation. He knows I wish him and everybody at IMG nothing but the best.
 

 
SHANGHAI: Even after the FedEx Cup ends, another strong field is in the making at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which is now part of the World Golf Championships series.
 
Phil Mickelson is the latest to commit to the tournament, to be played Nov. 5-8. That gives Shanghai a field that already includes Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, British Open champion Stewart Cink, PGA champion Y.E. Yang, Players champion Henrik Stenson and defending champion Sergio Garcia.
 
After the Open Championship, its hard to think of a bigger or better tournament held outside the U.S., said Mickelson, who won the HSBC Champions two years ago. This tournament already had everything in place and deserved to be part of the WGC series. It has always gotten strong fields and so has a great reputation worldwide.
 
The tournament is a winners-only field based on the strongest events in each of the major tours. Among those who have yet to qualify include three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, although he might be able to get in as one of two players from the world ranking not already eligible.
 

 
FEDEX FLAW?: One scenario that must have PGA Tour officials nervous is that Tiger Woods could win three straight playoff events and still not win the FedEx Cup.
 
To make the Tour Championship meaningful, points will be reset after three playoff events. The leader will have only a 250-point lead over second place, and a 1,900-point lead over 10th place.
 
If the leader ' Woods, for example ' finishes fifth at the Tour Championship, he could lose the FedEx Cup if someone from the top 10 wins at East Lake. That got Vijay Singhs attention Tuesday.
 
If a guy goes out and wins two or three events, and shows up at the Tour Championship and doesnt win, is it fair? he said.
 
Then again, Singh showed up at East Lake last year and was assured of winning as long as he made his tee time each day.
 
I dont know which is the best combination, Singh said. They will have to try this and if it doesnt work, they will tweak it again. So right now, everybody seems to think its pretty good.
 

 
WIRE TO WIRE: Tiger Woods has gone wire-to-wire in only seven of his 70 victories on the PGA Tour, another example that holding the lead for four days is never easy.
 
Thats what makes Ben Curtis so proud of his rare achievement.
 
Curtis led from start-to-finish at the now-defunct Booz Allen Classic, during which it rained so much at the TPC Avenel that the tournament was not completed until Tuesday.
 
Ive got one record Tiger will never beat, Curtis said. I had to sleep on the lead for five nights.
 

 
FEWER DESIGNS: Jack Nicklaus design company has more than 340 courses in play around the world. But the work has slowed to a crawl because of the global economic downturn.
 
Its not very good, he said recently about the climate for new layouts.
 
Nicklaus designed the 18 holes at Punta Espada, home of the Cap Cana stop on the Champions Tour. But after putting in nine holes at the Las Iguanas course at the same exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, the decision was made to wait a year to finish it, largely because of the downturn. Nicklaus is opening the first Golden Bear Lodge & Spa at Cap Cana.
 
Apparently the market for signature courses isnt bad everywhere.
 
Our business primarily has been China, Korea, Russia, South Africa ' all those places have continued to move forward, Nicklaus said. Most other places and the United States, its been very, very slow. I think well see a turn in the next six months or so.
 

 
HOLDING PATTERN: Michael Sim of Australia won his third Nationwide Tour event to earn instant promotion to the PGA Tour, although his timing could not have been worse. Four of the next five weeks on the PGA Tour are occupied by the four FedEx Cup playoff events, and the other week is dark. Sim wont get a chance to play the PGA Tour until Oct. 1 at the Turning Stone Resort.
 
He said he might continue playing the Nationwide Tour to stay sharp.
 
Because the Official World Golf Ranking award points to the Nationwide Tour, Sim has risen to No. 57 in the world. That would give him a chance to crack the top 50 by the end of the year and qualify for the Masters. And it raises another question in the immediate future. Might he earn consideration as a captains pick for the Presidents Cup team?
 

 
DIVOTS: The Barclays Singapore Open, the richest national open in Asia with a $5 million purse, will be part of the European Tour schedule next year. It will be held three weeks before the season-ending Dubai World Championship. Eight rookies on the PGA Tour qualified for the playoffs. Jeff Klauk at No. 60 has the highest seed. Vijay Singh will be trying to win The Barclays on a third golf course. He previous won at Westchester and Ridgewood.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Michael Bradley (Puerto Rico Open) is the only PGA Tour winner this year who did not qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
 

 
FINAL WORD: I would put myself up on that shot against almost anybody in the world with how good that was. I mean, it was ridiculous. ' Cristie Kerr, on a chip shot from behind the 17th green at the Solheim Cup.
 
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”