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Vijay Singh looks to defend title again

Vijay Singh hopes to achieve back-to-back title defenses this weekend with a victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and launch a repeat of his brilliant run of victories last year.

It would be difficult to imagine the world number two having a more enjoyable time in the "Big Easy" than he did at the Houston Open last week.

He began the week by being elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame and ended it with an extra-hole playoff win over John Daly for his second title of 2005.

But the smooth-swinging Fijian says the best is yet to come and that could mean a long week for rest of the field at the $5.5 million tournament in New Orleans, which includes only five of the world's top 20.

While Masters champion Tiger Woods and world No. 4 Phil Mickelson continue to take time off since Augusta three weeks ago, other members of the top 10 are slowly returning to work.

No. 7 Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who is making his New Orleans debut, Chris DiMarco, back in action for the first time since losing the U.S. Masters in a playoff to Woods, and 2001 winner David Toms round out the top-10 entries.

"I think I'm playing better this year than I've done in the past," the 42-year-old Singh told reporters after retaining his Houston crown. "Last year I had great results obviously, but to me I feel this year I'm more together.

"My whole game is more together. If I just start making a few more putts, I'll probably win a lot more events."

Singh's back-to-back wins in Houston and New Orleans last year provided the launching pad for one of the greatest seasons in golf history as he went on to finish with nine titles, nearly $11 million in prize money and Woods' number one world ranking.

Last year, Singh blew away the field at the English Turn Golf and Country Club with a final round 63 to register a one-stroke victory over Mickelson and Joe Ogilvie.

This year's event has moved from the English Turn to the new Tournament Players Club of Louisiana but the change of venues is unlikely to cause Singh any concern.

In fact, it may even play into the big Fijian's hands with the Pete Dye-designed 7,520-yard, par-72 layout drawing huge comparisons to Singh's home course, the TPC at Sawgrass.

Daly, who staged a dramatic final day charge last weekend in Houston with birdies on three of his final four holes to force a playoff, climbs 19 places in the world rankings to No. 34.

The hugely popular American is once again sure to have the support of the galleries but as always with the "Wild Thing" the question remains: which Daly will show up on the first tee on Thursday?

Will it be the Daly who missed the cut at the Players championship and the Masters or the golfer who ripped apart the back nine of the Redstone Country Club in Houston last week.

After heading the leaderboard for much of the week in Houston, Australia's Gavin Coles will have to overcome the disappointment of his final-nine hole collapse and prove he is not a one-event wonder.


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