Kindred spirits: Singh and Snead

By Jason SobelJuly 5, 2012, 7:23 pm

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – At a resort where Sam Snead served as head professional for much of his adult life, it is equal parts appropriate and ironic that Vijay Singh leads The Greenbrier Classic through the opening round.

They are two men cut from the same cloth, separated by a few generations. Snead and Singh could each be described as curmudgeonly, men who never cared much about public image, instead eschewing social graces for hard work, forever digging secrets out of the dirt.

It should come as no coincidence that they are considered amongst the preeminent late-career performers in the history of the game. Snead owned the PGA Tour record for victories after the age of 40 with 17 – until Singh surpassed him in 2007, since adding four more to his total. How impressive are those numbers? No other player has more than 11.

Of course, when Singh eclipsed Snead at the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship a half-decade ago, his take on owning the record was typical Vijay. Which is to say, it was a comment only Slammin’ Sam would have loved.

“I don't know what it means,” he said at the time. “If Sam Snead was out there and he played great all his career, for me to pass his record after 40, really, it does not mean much. There's no trophies for doing it, you know what I mean?”

The truth is, the 49-year-old Singh has never viewed his advancing age as any sort of disadvantage or deterrent. He remains the game’s ultimate range rat, unofficially leading the ranks in practice time year after year.

On Thursday, that practice was paying off once again.

Singh opened with a 7-under 63 at The Old White TPC Course, claiming the early lead on a track where Snead’s memory lingers on, both physically in photos and other mementos and metaphysically, his image remaining an intangible presence on the premises.

After posting a birdie on the first hole, Singh bogeyed his fourth, then birdied the seventh to make the turn in 1 under. He heated up in the sticky West Virginia humidity on the back, though, making birdies on six of his final eight holes, including each of the last four.

Never one who seems very startled to shoot a good score, Vijay was perhaps uncharacteristically pleased and surprised with himself after the round.

“Gosh, I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “I’ve been playing pretty good golf for a while, but just never got any scoring going. But today seemed I hit it close and drove the ball really well, hit a lot of greens and made some putts.”

That comes as a byproduct of recent play. In 17 starts this season, he has made the cut on 13 occasions, but the former top-10 machine has elicited just one such result so far. Last week’s AT&T National was emblematic of his issues, as his scores ascended from Thursday through Sunday, culminating in a frightful 10-over 81 on the final day.

It was enough to leave him pleasantly surprised after besting that number by 18 strokes in his next competitive round.

“You know, it’s my first good round of the year, I would say, that I felt really comfortable” he explained. “It’s a good way to start a tournament.”

Playing a ninth event in 10 weeks would leave most near-50-year-olds – he’ll hit the half-century mark next February – with undesirable aches and pains, not to mention a dose of lethargy that could be lethal to the golf game.

Of course, Singh isn’t most near-50-year-olds.

“I don’t feel tired; I feel really energized,” he said. “I’ve been working really hard on my game, so it’s nice to see something happen.”

If Snead were still around, he wouldn’t gush over Singh’s play nor would he resort to hyperbole in an effort to explain the leader’s feat so far.

Instead, the man who made a living at this course likely would have offered a tip of his hat and limited praise. All of which would suit Singh just fine. That’s just his style, too.

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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.

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Maggert and Parnevik lead at Bass Pro Shops

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 10:49 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik shot an 8-under 63 in better-ball play Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' chilly Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

''It was very relaxing for me because I felt like terrible,'' Parnevik said. ''I was so stiff this morning. It was freezing cold. I thought if I can just try to make some pars in case he ever makes a bogey, but I didn't even have to do that.''

Playing together for the first time in the team event, Maggert and Parnevik eagled the par-5 eighth and had six birdies in the cool and breezy conditions on Big Cedar Lodge's Buffalo Ridge course.

''We play well together,'' Maggert said. ''We both contributed a lot. Jesper had a lot of birdies and an eagle on our final nine. It was so cold this morning, I just was going to come out and just try to hit fairways and greens. Really I wasn't thinking about making birdies, I was just trying to play steady and give myself an opportunity to have some birdie putts.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


The next three rounds will be played on par-3 courses. Maggert and Parnevik will play the 18-hole Top of the Rock on Friday and Sunday, and the 13-hole Mountain Top on Saturday.

Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were a stroke back. They also eagled No. 8. Austin won the 2016 title with Michael Allen. Calcavecchia won the Boca Raton Championship this year.

''I lucked in a few birdies on the back, but it was tough, tough conditions,'' Calcavecchia said. ''Even when it warmed up a little bit, it was still tough to make birdies out there. All in all, 7 under's a pretty good start.''

Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman were at 65 along with Davis Love III-Scott Verplank, 2015 winners Billy Andrade-Joe Durant, Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett and Steve Flesch-David Toms.

''We kind of brother-in-lawed or ham-and-egged it or partnered it,'' Love said. ''Neither one of us were playing great, but we had one guy in every hole and that's kind of what you have to do. We're going to have to go to the par 3 courses and get two birdie putts on a hole is what you really want to do and we didn't do that enough today.''

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week for his first senior title.

Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were tied for 22nd at 68.

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Dredge, Quiros share early lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 8:41 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Bradley Dredge reeled off three birdies in his last five holes to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros after the opening round of the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II event Thursday.

Quiros finished with two straight birdies as the big-hitting Spaniard joined Welshman Dredge on 5-under-par 67.

Dredge, who made seven birdies in all, has won twice before but his last triumph came in 2006.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


Quiros, who has claimed seven victories, last won at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily last year.

The joint leaders have a one-shot advantage over Oliver Fisher, Joakim Lagergren, Erik Van Rooyen and Lorenzo Gagli at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

Former U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett, without a win since his victory at Augusta two years ago, opened with a 1-over 73.