Singh came from six down Sunday to finish only one shot off Stuart Applebys winning score at the Mercedes. But thats not so unusual if youve been reading the papers the last nine months or so. Singhs been doing stuff like that every other week.
Heres what hes done since the Bell Canadian Open in October (a tournament in which he finished sixth, incidentally): John Deere Classic, won; WCG-American Express, tie for second; Funai Classic at Disney, won; Chrysler Championship, second; Tour Championship, terrible ' he finished tied for fifth; and this year at the Mercedes, second.
That means in five of the last six tournaments hes played, he either finished first or second, the lone exception being that one fifth place. Hes finished outside the top eight only once since last July 6 ' a skein of 13 tournaments. Thats a seriously long stretch, folks.
Im playing well, he said simply, and what an understatement. Hes playing great ' and even thats almost an understatement.
Right now, virtually all that separates Singh from Tiger Woods is Woods is a little more consistent putter. Singh was snakebit with the dadblasted roller practically the whole tournament at Mercedes. When the putting finally turned around on the back nine Sunday, Appleby had to clutch tightly at a lead which was six at the turn, but was down to a single stroke when Singhs l00-footer missed by two feet.
Dont get me wrong - he isnt a bad putter. He finished 18th in putting last year, and obviously thats pretty good. He understands the mechanics of the stroke, and hes been making them with a lot of regularity. Its just that Tiger is obscenely good with the little stick, and for now, thats the difference.
Im still learning about putting, Singh said, and if a man who puts the thousands of hours in practicing doesnt know it all yet, no one knows it all.
I think putting is always my problem. Not a problem - I'm not a bad putter. I'm just not a great putter. Great putters win a lot more tournaments.
I feel like if I can improve my putting part of the game - you know, I've always been able to hit the ball pretty decent. I'm driving the ball really good right now. My iron shots are not too bad. If I can make a lot more putts - and not saying every other putt I make, but my share of putts - I should be OK. You can see, if I'm putting well, I'm right up there winning golf tournaments.
Singh says it shouldnt be a surprise that his consistently high finishes should have carried over from the second half of last year to the start of this one.
I was swinging the club well, he said. I only took two weeks off. You cant go from swinging the club well for six months, coming over here (to Hawaii), and totally losing it. I kept practicing.
Hes a confident player right now, totally relaxed and in a smooth rhythm. Tiger seems a bit unnerved, ill at ease, with his swing. Not Singh. Hes striding up and bombing it, and he seems to know where its going ' every time.
I'm not fighting with my golf swing, he agreed. If I hit a bad shot, it's just a bad shot for me.
You know, I'm not going to say, Well, what went wrong with my golf swing? I just go out and tee it up and hit it again. I'm not really fighting that I'm going to hit a bad swing on a golf club. I'm just going to go tee it up and see the shot and hit it. That's what I've been doing the last six, eight months. It's a good feeling to have.
I think my golf swing is in tune with me, and I just feel comfortable with it. I'm going to keep riding it as long as I can.
Who knows how good Singh can be this year this may be the year when he finally passes Woods. Thats a bit strange, considering Singh will be 41 years old when the season ends and Tiger will still be 28.
But the gap closed considerably last year. Woods must continue to get better, if thats possible. Here comes Singh, flying low under the radar but getting louder and louder with each tournament. And its going to take a superlative effort to beat him.
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