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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2007 > PGA Tour > Mercedes Championship > Round 4
 

MERCEDES CHAMPIONSHIP RELATED STORIES





Vijay Singh gains wire to wire victory

There was plenty of evidence that Vijay Singh's best golf was behind him.

He missed the cut in two majors last year and plunged to No. 7 in the world rankings during a season that brought him only one victory, his lowest output in five years. Aches and pains came more frequently with his workouts, and flaws were creeping into his swing. And he really had nothing to prove after he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in October.

Instead, Singh worked harder than ever.

And his two-shot victory Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Championship meant far more than the milestones that came with it.

"This was an important one," Singh said after closing with a 3-under 70 to hold off a late charge from Adam Scott. "Sometimes when you don't win for a while, in the back of your head you have some kind of pressure, and this kind of eases all the pressure. It's a good win. I wanted this win, and I practiced hard for it."

It showed over four days of vicious wind on the Plantation course at Kapalua.

He opened with a 69 for a five-way share of the lead, then pulled away from the rest of the winners-only field. Singh played his final 29 holes without a bogey, and his birdie-birdie start quickly turned a three-shot lead into six.

As for the milestones?

It was his 30th career victory on the PGA Tour, and the 18th since he turned 40. That broke the record held by Sam Snead, who won 17 times after his 40th birthday.

Singh earned $1.1 million to become only the second player to pass $50 million in career money.

And he became the first player to top the standings in the FedExCup competition, a new season-long points race that the PGA Tour has dubbed the "new era in golf."

The new era brought out the old Vijay.

"I knew it was my 30th win," Singh said. "Hopefully, it doesn't stop there. I feel good and I'm looking forward to the season. And hopefully, there's a lot more wins."

If that's the case, it won't be by accident.

Singh realized there were flaws in his swing toward the end of the 2006 season. He was relying too much on the right side of his body, and he worked on controlling the swing with his left hand. So he hit the range and the gym with renewed vigor, setting goals with his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi.

"Once I finished the Tour Championship, that was it," he said. "I turned over a new page and had a great discussion with Joey and just said, 'Let's look forward to next season, and make sure that when we arrive at Mercedes, we're ready to play, and nothing is going to interfere with my head or my golf swing."'

Scott tried to get in the way late.

The 26-year-old Australian was three shots behind to start the final round, needing to make a move. But he went the other direction, making bogey from the bunker on No. 2 and dropping another shot on the fourth. Singh hit wedge into 5 feet on the opening hole for birdie, and his 7-iron to 12 feet on the next hole expanded his lead.

"Nobody was going to catch me then," Singh said.

Scott was five shot back with seven holes to play when he chipped away, and consecutive birdies cut the lead to two shots. His 25-foot birdie on the 17th to trim the margin to one grazed the side of the cup, and Scott missed the 3-foot par putt to lose his last chance.

He closed with a birdie for a 69, finishing two shots behind.

"You don't throw in the towel ever, no matter what," Scott said. "It wasn't quite enough."

The consolation was moving up to No. 3 in the world ahead of Phil Mickelson, who will not make his 2007 debut for two more weeks.

Trevor Immelman closed with a 72 to finish third.

Singh's victory also helped him erase some sour memories on Maui. He has finished a combined four shots behind Stuart Appleby the last three years, including a playoff loss a year ago. Twice he lost the lead in the final round.

"Nick Faldo kept saying, 'Been there twice, led the tournament twice, 0-and-2.' He kept saying that on TV, and I just wanted to prove it him that I can win," Singh said.

And he proved that age is just a number.

"Anyone who says 43 is old, they can go to hell," Singh said with a laugh at the trophy presentation.

Everything is just a number to Singh.

He has heard so much hype about the FedExCup that he said he was tired of listening to it at the start of the week, and the 4,500 points he earned Sunday for the victory didn't register. He's still going to play a lot, and it looks like he'll play well.

The money is still mind-boggling, but Singh is more impressed than he made it out of Fiji to the PGA Tour, let alone win 30 times.

Even passing Snead for most wins in his 40s drew not much more than a shrug. He was always more fascinated with Snead's swing.

"There's no trophies for doing it," he said. "It's just a record created by who? It's not even a record. It's just a number."

And the Fijian is putting no limits on what he can do.

"Fred Funk won a golf tournament when he was 48, and I'm a lot bigger and a lot stronger than Freddie Funk," Singh said. "If he can win at 48, what makes me think I'm not going to win when I'm 50? If I'm healthy and playing the way I'm doing right now ... five, six, 10 years, I don't know. I'm just going to keep going."

 

 




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