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Straight back to work for Vijay Singh

The proof was on a piece of paper he rolled up in his hand Wednesday, page 12 of the weekly PGA Tour News, top-left corner under the heading, ``Official World Golf Ranking.''

No. 1, Vijay Singh.

Not that he needed a reminder.

Singh knew he had supplanted Tiger Woods atop the world ranking when he polished off a three-shot victory Monday on the TPC at Boston for his sixth PGA Tour victory of the year. He knew it when he arrived at Glen Abbey for the Canadian Open, when countless peers went out of their way to congratulate him.

And even though the proof was in the paper, Singh knew it long before that.

``I thought I was the best in the world for a while,'' he said. ``That has not changed.''

When he ducked out of the interview room, Singh might as well have thrown the paper away.

Reaching No. 1 in the world was a lifelong mission, and he is especially proud to have achieved it at age 41. As always, however, Singh has work to do.

``Nobody out there cares who's No. 1 when you tee it up,'' Singh said.

The Bell Canadian Open cares.

This is the third-oldest national championship in golf, and what a way to celebrate its 100th anniversary -- having the No. 1 player in the world at Glen Abbey, along with Masters champion Phil Mickelson, six other Americans gearing up for the Ryder Cup and former Masters champion Mike Weir, who remains the biggest draw in his home country.

Tournament director Bill Paul did a radio interview about the strength of the field. Paul got in his cart to drive away, motioned toward Singh sitting on a stone fence doing a television interview and quipped, ``They probably wouldn't want to talk to me if he was No. 2.''

Singh became only the 12th player to reach No. 1 since the world ranking made its debut in 1986, and he plans to keep it for as long as he can.

Along with the Canadian Open, Singh will play in two weeks at the 84 Lumber Classic, then go over to Ireland for a World Golf Championship. With perhaps a half-dozen tournaments still to play, Singh has a good chance to topple Woods' single-season earning record of $9.1 million.

But it's the ranking he sought, and the ranking he wants to keep.

Woods is not that far off, evidenced by his runner-up finishes his last two tournaments. Ernie Els twice had a chance to be No. 1 this year, and it's only a matter of time before Mickelson starts piling up ranking points.

``I'm not going to stay home and hope my ranking stays where it is,'' Singh said. ``I'm not worried about anyone catching me. If they do, they must be playing good golf.''

Such is the state of his confidence, not to mention his game.

Now he has to tackle a solid field at Glen Abbey, where the Canadian Open returns for the first time since Woods hit that 6-iron from 218 yards out of a bunker and over the water to birdie the last hole and win by a shot over Grant Waite, his ninth and final victory of a record-breaking 2000 season.

Maybe that's where Singh is headed next -- nine wins, utter dominance.

He has only been No. 1 for two days, compared with 264 consecutive weeks for Woods, so it might take a while for Singh to exude the kind of intimidation Woods enjoyed for a good chunk of his time at the top.

``I don't quite see him where Tiger was in 2000, if I'm comparing him (Singh) to that,'' Weir said. ``Vijay is winning, and he's doing a great job. But Tiger was winning by 15 shots, crazy numbers out here.''

Mickelson also plans to beef up his schedule.

Lefty had hinted that he might take it easy the rest of the year, especially if it was unlikely he could catch Singh on the money list or get consideration as Player of the Year.

``Certainly, with Vijay winning six times, he's going to be the front-runner,'' Mickelson said. ``I probably need to win two or three times to have a realistic shot at it. But that's not really my mind-set right now. I've been working on some great things this year, and I want to continue to improve.''

Mickelson said he would play in Ireland and Las Vegas, and perhaps the Florida tournaments before ending the year at the Tour Championship. He also is anxious to work with his new clubs, having signed a long-term deal with Callaway.

Mickelson will be using a new driver, two fairway metals and a new ball this week, and he needs to get dialed in for the Ryder Cup next week at Oakland Hills.

Why not wait until after the Ryder Cup to make the switch?

``I think my excitement may have moved the timetable up,'' Mickelson said. ``But I think it's also going to help me in the Ryder Cup. It's going to help me this week.''

The way Singh has been playing, everyone needs all the help they can get.

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