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PGA Tour:
84 Lumber Classic
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Vijay Singh looking to defend 84 Lumber title

Vijay Singh arrives at the 84 Lumber Classic with the challenge of defending a title for the third consecutive week and the added pressure of finding his best form in the final tuneup ahead of the Presidents Cup.

Battling a sore back and a disobedient putter, the world number two has turned over three titles in the last month, including his PGA Championship crown to Phil Mickelson, who returns to action at Mystic Rock Golf Course in Farmington, Pa., for the first time since the WGC NEC Invitational.

Last year, Singh was in the midst of a magical run having won five PGA Tour events in six starts with his victory at Mystic Rock breaking Tiger Woods' single season earnings record.

But this year, the PGA Tour's Fall Finish has not gone as smoothly for the Fijian.

Two weeks ago Singh was forced to withdraw from his title defence at the Deutsche Bank because of a creaky back and last week could not find any consistent form at the Canadian Open in Vancouver, finishing in a tie for seventh after firing a final round two-over 72.

"I'm playing really good and I'm hitting the ball very well off the tees," assessed Singh. "The only part of my game that is not as strong as last year is probably my putting.

"It's kind of gone down some, but I had a lot of chances.

"I threw away a lot of golf tournaments this year, missed a short putt at Honda; I hit it in the water at Bay Hill; had a chance at a few other events that I didn't capitalise."

With the Presidents Cup set for next week, the 84 Lumber Classic has attracted an unusually strong field, including 10 of the 24 players who will be competing at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va.

Singh, along with his International team mates, Australians Stuart Appleby and Peter Lonard, will be in Farmington while U.S. team members, world number three Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Fred Couples, Chris DiMarco, Jim Furyk, Justin Leonard and David Toms will use the event to sharpen their games ahead of the biennial competition.

"Obviously they're trying to make changes to the course which is making it better, and I just want to play the week before the Presidents Cup, so I'm not looking ahead," said DiMarco.

"Obviously I'd like to win this week and I came close last year. I think I finished third.

"I have a week and a half to get my game to the level I want it at. Major level is how I want to be going into Presidents Cup."

Former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, who ended a four-year title drought on Sunday with his one-shot victory at the Canadian Open, will try for back-to-back wins joining a field that includes all five past champions: Singh, DiMarco, J.L. Lewis, Dan Forsman and Robert Allenby.

After J.L. Lewis posted a winning score of 22-under-par 266 in 2003 and Singh followed up with a winning total of 15-under 273 last year, Hardy family, who sponsor the event, poured $7 million into adding some bite to the Pete Dye-designed layout.

The result is a Mystic Rock course that has been transformed into a major championship-calibre course stretched from 7,411 to 7,511 yards.

But much more than length has been added with fairways narrowed to an average of just 27 yards bringing more water hazards and bunkers into play.

 

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