Singh aiming for US$10m earnings mark
Ken Griffey Jr. walked down the practice range Wednesday morning and stopped to watch Vijay Singh, two world-class athletes with not much else in common.
One guy rarely plays in the fall.
The other plays his best golf this time of the year.
Singh has won his last three PGA Tour events, and five of his last six. Next up is the Funai Classic at Disney, where he is the defending champion. It's the start of a three-week sprint to the end of the season, and the 41-year-old Fijian wants to finish strong.
Despite having wrapped up all the major awards, his goals are clear.
Already an eight-time winner on Tour, Singh wants to reach 10 victories. Not since Sam Snead won 11 times in 1950 has anyone won so much in one year. Singh also is $544,434 away from becoming the first $10 million man in golf.
``There's three more tournaments to go and this so-called '10' mark they all talk about,'' Singh said. ``I'd like to achieve that. I want to end on a high note. I just want to keep it going and see if it's going to last.
``I just don't want to see it end, put it that way.''
Griffey, who lives nearby at Isleworth, reached his own milestone this year with his 500th career home run. But his season was cut short by injuries, the second straight year he spent September on the disabled list.
Singh is relentless, and he really seems to surge in the fall. He started his ascent to No. 1 in the world about this time last year when he won Disney. He has won 12 times the last two seasons, with five of those victories coming in the final two months of the season.
``There is nobody out there working harder than him,'' Chris DiMarco said.
Singh already has played 26 tournaments and will finish the year by playing Disney, next week in Tampa (he finished second last year), followed by the season-ending Tour Championship.
``I don't really look at stats and look at how many tournaments I've won,'' Singh said. ``You've got to be really focused on what you're doing. My focus is on this event. I try not to get complacent.''
Tiger Woods was in this spot five years ago.
A victory in the PGA Championship gave fresh legs to his year, and Woods finished it off in style by returning from a break to win the final three tournaments of the year.
Singh is hardly coming off a break.
He took a week off after winning the 84 Lumber Classic, then played consecutive weeks in cold weather on the European tour. He tied for 20th at the Dunhill Links in Scotland, then lost in the first round to Bernhard Langer at the World Match Play Championship in England.
Singh is the big favorite this week for a couple of reasons -- he is No. 1 in the world for the seventh straight week, and he is the only player in the top 10 at Disney.
Woods, who has fallen to No. 3 in the world, is skipping Disney for the first time since he turned pro in 1996. He got married Oct. 5 in Barbados and decided to extend his honeymoon, still on his yacht somewhere in the Caribbean. Davis Love III, Mike Weir, David Toms and others who usually play at Disney are taking this week off.
Then again, it might not matter the way Singh is playing.
``I don't think Vijay is really hoping that he gets it going this week,'' Billy Andrade said. ``He's been doing it, having a phenomenal year. He's been doing it every week. I think he knows he's going to play great. He's got something we ain't got. It's been pretty impressive to see what he's accomplished.
``Hopefully, he won't continue it here.''
Andrade is one of about three dozen players who have reason to hope Singh doesn't have his best week. While the 41-year-old Fijian is closing in on $10 million, guys at the bottom of the ladder are worried more about $600,000, the amount it could take to keep their PGA Tour cards for next year.
Except for Mark O'Meara and Notah Begay (both injured), every player from No. 114 to No. 143 on the PGA Tour money list is playing at Disney with hopes of securing a spot in the top 125.
Andrade is no stranger to the bubble.
He wrapped up his card last year in Las Vegas with an eighth-place finish. Four years ago, he was headed back to qualifying school until he won Las Vegas to get a two-year exemption. But he rarely has gone this deep into the season with so much on the line.
Andrade relishes what most players dread.
``I think it's kind of fun,'' Andrade said. ``I kind of enjoy the fact that you have to go out and play, and you have to find a way to get it in the hole. And that's something I haven't done very well this year.''
That's something to which Singh cannot relate.
Singh hit the $600,000 mark the first week of the season -- a runner-up finish at the Mercedes Championships -- and he has been rolling ever since to heights he never imagined.
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