Singh will have a new world to conquer next year

By Jason SobelOctober 15, 2012, 12:00 pm

Vijay Singh will turn half-a-hundred on Feb. 22 of next year. Just a guess, but he'll probably celebrate by hitting about 20 buckets of balls at the range, then enjoying a leisurely three-hour putting session before cranking out some bench presses at the gym.

And then he’ll mark the milestone by winning all five Champions Tour majors.

If he feels like it.

By the time most professional golfers reach the golden anniversary of their birth, the idea of three-round tournaments on shorter courses against graying fogeys with growing beer guts sounds like a utopian concept. Not so for Singh, who would like to keep competing against the flatbellies for as long as he can.

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Judging by recent results, that could be an awfully long time.

The literally nicknamed Big Fijian is fresh off a T-4 at the Open this past weekend, one of four top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA Tour starts. Despite battling injuries for much of the early part of the season, he’s cashed more than $1.5 million, now inside the top 50 on the money list.

Even though he’s already proven everything there is to prove – he owns 34 career wins; he once wrested away No. 1 world ranking honors from Tiger Woods; hell, he’s already been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame – Singh is still grinding away in Fall Series events more often left for journeymen, also-rans and up-and-comers.

Consider it a testament to his work ethic, his competitive nature, his desire for success and maybe even an admission that he wouldn’t know what else to do with himself, since he’s played at least 21 tournaments every year going back to 1994.

Asked recently if he could ever envision going cold turkey and retiring from the game, Singh sang a familiar refrain: “We'll see. If desire loses me or goes away, then I'm going to quit.”

Don’t count on it anytime soon.

The fact is, if Singh so desires he may be able to play in nine different major championships next year. A victory at The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship or PGA Championship is unlikely though not impossible; he would surpass Julius Boros as the oldest player to win a major.

At the five majors on the senior circuit, however, he will not only be the new kid on the block, but a prohibitive favorite to win handily. Not to take away from the accomplishments of players such as Roger Chapman and Joe Daley – each senior major winners this year – but Singh’s game rests in a different stratosphere than most guys his age.

Perhaps their best chance to beat him lies in a Danny Almonte-like birth certificate scandal in reverse, with Singh doctoring his paperwork like the former Little League ballplayer in order to compete with the big boys.

OK, maybe not. But what else are they going to do? If and when Singh decides to tee it up with the elder statesmen, they’ll be dealing with a guy who still ranks in the PGA Tour’s top 50 in driving distance, birdie average and scoring average – three categories which should prove him a man amongst, well, older men at some point.

Oh, and here’s the worst part: They won’t be able to outwork him, either.

Certain players shoulder stereotypes, though they're often for appropriate reasons. Phil Mickelson is the consummate fan favorite, signing autographs until the last Sharpie-wielding observer can walk away happy. Steve Stricker is emotional, punctuating victories with a puddle of happy tears. Ian Poulter is brash, a confidence that he literally wears on his sleeve in bright, multi-colored clothing.

Singh’s stereotype? He is the ultimate hard worker, owning a reputation as the player who constantly grinds at the range, forever trying to dig secrets out of the dirt. Hey, as far as stereotypes are concerned, it's not a bad one to have.

Most players would reach a certain level in their careers at this age and start taking it easy, but Singh isn’t most players. Never has been. Most players don’t win 34 titles, become No. 1 in the world, get inducted into the Hall of Fame and then toil in Fall Series events.

That’s what makes him special and what should make everybody else in the 50-and-over set very nervous about the coming years. There’s no guarantee that Singh will compete against them anytime soon. But he will turn 50 and he won’t stop working, which should serve as a very bad combination for the rest of them.

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Match-by-match: 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 1

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 6:32 pm

Here is how things played out on Day 1 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play:

Group 15: (15) Pat Perez vs. (50) Si Woo Kim, halved: The first match of the day ended up in a draw, as the top seed rallied from a deficit to salvage half a point. Kim won three of the first six holes and held a 3-up lead with seven holes to go, but Perez fought back with four birdies over the next six holes to draw even.

Group 15: (24) Gary Woodland vs. (37) Webb Simpson, halved: This group remains entirely up for grabs since nothing was decided on the opening day. Woodland took a 3-up lead at the turn, but Simpson rallied by winning four of the next seven holes, including a birdie on No. 17 that brought him back to all square for the first time since the third hole.

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Watch: Thomas saves par from impossible position

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 21, 2018, 5:18 pm

Luke List was just hoping for an opening in his Day 1 match against Justin Thomas at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas cracked the door on the par-4 ninth, but then quickly slammed it shut. Thomas, 3 up through eight holes, was in terrible shape after two shots at No. 9. But his third shot was a beauty, and a heartbreaker for List.

Thomas made the putt to halve the hole and make the turn 3 up.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 15 to 25 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

University of Miami coach Patti Rizzo, a four-time LPGA winner, applauds the deferral option. Two years ago, Rizzo lost her best player, Danny Darquea, who turned pro in the spring. It hurt Miami’s team.

“That was probably our best chance in seven years to win the nationals,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said her concerns seeing a player turn pro go beyond how it affects her team.

“What all these girls need to realize now is that a degree is more important than ever,” Rizzo said. “In my day, it was like, 'My chances are pretty good. I will get my card.’ But it’s so much more competitive now. And financially, it’s hard to make it. I think it’s so much harder than it ever was. So many girls aren’t making it, and they need a backup plan.”

Darquea is playing the Symetra Tour now, but Rizzo said she is also back in Miami taking classes to finish up her final semester and get her degree.

“It’s great she is doing that, but it would have been better if she could have stayed in college three more months and got her degree and then turned pro,” Rizzo said. “I think this deferral option is great, and I would think all the college coaches will think so, too.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.