Singh now aiming for 10th win of 2004
The Vijay Singh show, a long-running blockbuster in 2004, could earn one more rave review by the end of this week.
Fijian Singh, firmly established as the game's most dominant player, has a golden opportunity to win his 10th PGA Tour title of the year in the season-ending Tour Championship at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club.
The elite limited-field event has an entry of just 30 players and world number one Singh has a good track record at the Georgia venue, winning there in 2002 and losing out to Hal Sutton in a playoff in 1998.
Should the 41-year-old triumph on Sunday, he would join golfing greats Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead as the only players to have claimed 10 titles or more in a single PGA Tour season.
Nelson came away with a record 18 in 1945, Hogan won 13 in 1946 and 10 in 1948 while Snead lifted 11 in 1950.
The way Singh has been playing in 2004, it would take a very brave -- or perhaps even a stupid -- man to bet against him.
On Sunday, he became the first player in tour history to earn more than $10 million in a season with a stylish five-shot victory at the Chrysler Championship.
The U.S. PGA champion birdied the last for a six-under-par 65, his ninth win of the year earning him a cheque for $900,000 and lifting his overall earnings to $10,725,166.
Singh had already surpassed the previous record of $9,188,321, set by Tiger Woods in 2000.
The purple patch produced by Woods that year -- when he won nine times in 20 starts, including the last three majors of the season -- is widely regarded as one of the most dominant runs in golfing history.
However Singh's scintillating form this season is not far behind, and he seems to be getting even better.
"It's been an incredible year for me," he told reporters on Sunday. "The wins keeps coming and I'm enjoying every bit of it. But I haven't really sat down and thought about it, what I've done.
"I have not enjoyed it yet. It's a process. I'll only enjoy it when the season is over. I'm not one for stats, not one to keep records."
The 41-year-old's remarkable run of form, which dates back to last August, owes much to his astonishing work ethic and a burning desire to be the game's best player.
His golf was mightily impressive last year when he won four times on the PGA Tour but he has scaled new heights in 2004.
Singh completed a run of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes on tour with victory at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, and has since added a further eight titles.
The highpoint came in the U.S. PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August when he clinched his third major title in a three-way playoff.
Significantly, he had switched back to a conventional blade from a belly putter the previous month.
"The putter change did me great," said Singh. "I started putting really well and started driving the ball really straight.
"The whole package has been good. My head has been pretty clear, as well, which is what you need to play good golf and win tournaments.
"I think I have done everything well this year. When I was in trouble, I got out of it. When I needed to get up-and-down, I got up-and-down."
All of this must seem a lifetime away from Singh's early days as a club professional in Borneo where he was paid the minimum wage, plus $10 a lesson.
"It was a struggle," he recalled. "It was a lot to learn from, what I've been through. I think it's an experience in life where it was tough, but it was educational in a way.
"I wouldn't like to go back there, but I've learned so much from it that this is the reward. It's like a miracle that I'm sitting with $10 million and nine wins in a season."
Remarkably, Singh's miracle could provide one final twist in Atlanta this week.
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