Singh rides Mercedes win to FedEx lead

Updated: January 10, 2007, 4:53 PM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Ladies and gentlemen, history has been made. Let it be known for all of time -- or at least until this new format flames out -- that your first-ever leader of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup points standings is one Vijay Singh.

There you have it. The mystery has been solved, the question answered, the suspense suspended. It's a suitable resolution, too, considering Singh may be the prototypical FedEx Cup golfer. He fits the bill in all categories. Play early. Play often. Play well.

Vijay Singh
Eric Risberg/AP PhotoSingh earned 4,500 FedEx Cup points for his victory at Kapalua.
Maybe it is also fitting that the notorious curmudgeon couldn't give a hoot about the FexEd Cup right now. That's right. It was hardly in the forefront of his consciousness while winning the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship this week. On Thursday, just one -- yes, one -- round into the season, Singh said of the new system, "There's so much going on about FedEx Cup, I'm tired of listening to it, you know? It's nothing else but the FedEx Cup."

Three days later, that comment was interpreted thusly by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: "Vijay has been pretty consistent, starting with last year, about his enthusiasm for the FedEx Cup. The fact that he individually determined that he had said that enough, that's his prerogative, and it doesn't have anything to do with our promotion plans."

Really? We could just see the folks in the marketing department back in Ponte Vedra Beach sitting around an oak table, stroking their chins, perusing whether the motto "A new era in golf" should quickly be replaced by Vijay's claim of "I'm tired of listening to it."

During a week when the Kapalua resort featured more FedEx logo-adorned folks than a Memphis mailroom during holiday season, Singh earned 4,500 points towards the new format, putting him exactly 4,500 points ahead of old rivals Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, each of whom decided to begin their own "new era in golf" at a later date. In essence, the current standings are a true microcosm of the tendencies for these three players; whereas Woods and Mickelson combined to compete in only 34 PGA Tour events last season, Singh grinded away for 27 starts, the 13th consecutive year he was over the 20 plateau.

"I play a lot anyway. My schedule will not change," Singh said on Sunday evening. "[The new schedule] is probably playing in my favor more than, you know, anybody else's out there."

Though Finchem certainly won't outwardly root for any individual tour member, you've got to wonder whether he may have been sneaking a wry smile while watching Singh take the year's first title. Knowing that Vijay will take nary a week off between now and September makes him the perfect poster boy for the new format.

After all, Rule 1 of the FedEx Cup -- heck, of any golf tournament -- is that you can't win what you don't play. So be like Vijay and keep on keeping on.

"I think stamina is an important thing in the sport," Finchem said, "and if stamina becomes a factor, I don't think that's a bad thing."

At Kapalua, Singh earned his 30th career PGA Tour victory which, as you may surmise, means more to him than any FedEx Cup points. He was hardly alone in failing to deliver the company line about the changes, either. Rattling off his goals for the 2007 season, David Toms included this admission: "I guess this little FedEx Cup series thing, I'll figure that one out and do the best I can in that."

Entrenched in such rhetoric after just one week, the fact remains that the PGA Tour will have its hands full holding players' interests in this Brave New World. There is the very possible chance that the first FedEx Cup champion will be an accidental one, that the title and $10 million bonus will simply be a byproduct of great golf rather than which player wanted it the most.

As we've seen already this week, it may also be a correlation of simply competing on a regular basis. Like the mantra goes: Play early. Play often. Play well. That is what's lifted Vijay Singh into the FedEx Cup points lead after the season's first tournament. Whether he likes it or not.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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