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Vijay Singh defends Barclays title at unfamiliar course

Vijay Singh admired the views of the Statue of Liberty, New York harbor and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but did not know how much he was going to like playing the Liberty National course.

“It’s a different golf course, totally different than what we normally play on tour,” the title-holder told reporters on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Barclays Classic, the first event in the U.S. Tour’s four-tournament FedExCup playoff series.

“It’s a very modern golf course with a very old-fashioned look to it. So that’s the best I can describe it.”

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson head a 124-man field for the Barclays, where top golfers launch their campaign for a $10 million bonus on a new course that sits across from New York harbor with spectacular views of the city and Lady Liberty.

Singh won last year’s Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, and prevailed three other times at Westchester Country Club, where the tournament was once held annually, before being rotated among metropolitan New York courses.

This is the first look for most of the professionals at the long, tightly routed course designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp on land once condemned because of toxic industrial waste.

It is a tree-less, fescue-bordered course that brings to mind links golf, but the holes are laid out tight alongside each other in an economy of design that gives off a feel of target golf with not much room for error.

Striking vistas liven the layout with the Statue of Liberty looming just beyond the second green and the bridge connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn in plain view to the east of the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan’s financial district.

“It’s in great condition and the views are the best you’re ever going to see around here,” said Singh.

“The golf is very interesting. The course has got its own character. The greens are very difficult. There’s a lot of undulations on them.

“It’s long, it’s tight, it’s grueling. So you’ve got to bring your game.”

The format for this year’s playoffs has been tweaked to allow for more suspense after Singh virtually clinched the 2008 series after winning the first two events.

The top 100 players on the points list advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, with 30 more players eliminated for the following BMW Championship in Chicago.

Points will be reset for the finale, the Tour Championship, which will be contested by the top 30 in the standings.


August 26, 2009

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