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Vijay Singh practices at a tough Baltusrol

After a practice round at Baltusrol, defending champion Vijay Singh is convinced the longer hitters are going to have an advantage at the PGA Championship in August.

``It's going to be pretty long the way I played it today, a lot of 5-irons and 4-irons and 3-irons,'' Singh said Monday after shooting an even-par 70 at the 7,392-yard course in Springfield.

``If you're Corey Pavin, you need a lot of woods, I guess. It's going to play really long, but it sets up really well for a great event. I think the way the rough is growing in, I think we're in for a great tournament.''

There have been four significant changes in the 110-year-old course since the U.S. Open was held here in 1993. This year's event is Aug. 11-14.

Over the last three years, 35 yards have been added to the now 503-yard par-4 third hole. The par-5 17th is now 650 yards after being lengthened 20 yards. Singh said the par-3 16th played at 248 yards on Monday, and the par-4 13th hole played tougher with a creek moved closer to the fairway.

Singh joked about playing the 17th hole, which is one of the longest in championship play. He hit his best drive of the day and his best 3-wood on his second shot. He was still 70 yards short of the green.

Singh pitched to 8 feet and sank his putt for birdie, the only one he made all day.

John Daly was able to hit No. 17 in two in 1993. Singh doubts anyone will be able to do it this year.

``If the ground gets firm and it's downwind, you would probably be able to,'' Singh said. ``You can fly it 300 low, 350 yards, you have a chance to get up there, but it's very unlikely.''

Baltusrol will force players to use their drivers at least eight to 10 times. Players who elect to use 3-woods will face a lot of long iron shots.

``You can't be hitting 3-woods,'' Singh said, noting that the first measures 478 yards, with other par 4s measuring 503, 482 and 505 yards. ``It just makes the golf course so much harder. If it's hard and firm, maybe. But if it's what it was today.''

Singh's even-par round came on a day he missed only one fairway, the first.

``I was hoping to see him in the rough to see how he would do,'' said John Huneke, the tournament's general chairman, who played in a foursome with Singh, PGA of America President Roger Warren and acting Gov. Richard Codey.

Singh wondered whether a short hitter would be able to win the tournament, the 16th national championship at Baltusrol and the first PGA Championship.

``I think the longer hitters are going to have an advantage,'' he said. ``But then again longer hitters are going to hit more times into the rough.''


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