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Vijay cruises to fourth win of season

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Vijay Singh has never been so
close to ending Tiger Woods' four-year reign of the PGA Tour money
list.

At this rate, he won't rule out his chances of replacing him as
No. 1 in the world.

Singh took a huge step toward the first goal Sunday with an easy
victory in the Funai Classic at Disney, finishing with another long
birdie putt for a 5-under 67 that vaulted him to the top of the
money list.

''I hope I don't wake up from this dream,'' Singh said after his
four-shot victory over Woods, Scott Verplank and Stewart Cink, his
fourth of the year.

Singh finished at 23-under 265 and earned $720,000 to take over
the lead on the money list at just over $6.8 million. He now has a
$250,094 lead over Woods.

Advantage, Vijay.

The big Fijian is playing next week in the $4.8 million Chrysler
Championship in Tampa, and could further pad his lead with a good
finish.

Woods, who already has played eight fewer events than Singh, is
taking the week off.

He did well to make sure the gap wasn't larger. Despite a bogey
on the first hole, Woods shot 31 on the back nine at Magnolia for a
65 and wound up in a tie for second at 269.

In fact, Woods picked up an extra $98,000 in a matter of two
minutes when Cink and John Rollins missed par putts on the final
hole.

Even so, Singh could clinch the money title by winning in Tampa,
which would be worth $864,000. Otherwise, the money title will be
decided in Houston at the Tour Championship.

''I'm in the best position to win the money title,'' Singh said.
''If I win next week, he can win the next week because he's not
going to beat me.''

Woods did not seem fazed.

He said he's not playing in Tampa because he wants to be fresh
for the $6 million Tour Championship, and he was not overly
concerned when told that Singh could make the final event of the
year a moot point.

''It's important, but it's not that important,'' Woods said.
''If he has it wrapped up, so be it. Anybody would rather have
Player of the Year than the money title.''

Singh will go up to No. 2 when the World Ranking is released
Monday, his highest position ever. Woods has been No. 1 since
winning the 1999 PGA Championship, and still has a huge lead over
Singh.

''I give myself another five years,'' the 40-year-old Singh
said. ''It's going to be really hard to get Tiger from the No. 1
spot. He's playing so well every week. I just have to match that
and play better than that in the next few years. We'll have to wait
and see.''

Meantime, Singh clearly joined the race for PGA Tour Player of
the Year.

Woods has five victories, one more than Singh, although the
Fijian had a stronger performance in the majors.

Woods is a lock to win a fifth straight Vardon Trophy.

While the season-ending awards are up in the air, there was
little doubt about the outcome at the Funai Classic on another
balmy day across the Magic Kingdom, where Singh continued to play
at the highest level of his career.

His four-shot victory was the widest margin at Disney since Jack Nicklaus won by nine shots in 1972, and it ended eight straight
years of the tournament being decided by either one shot or a
playoff.

That seemed unlikely when Singh, Cink Verplank and Rollins
started the final round in a tie for the lead.

Verplank (71) and Rollins (72) failed to make a birdie on the
front nine. The consolation prize for Verplank was moving up to
18th on the money list, assuring him a spot in the Tour Championship.

Cink had a 71, but managed to hang around the longest.

''It does not surprise me at all that out of the four that were
18 under, that it was him that went out there and took it,'' Cink
said. ''He's on top of his game ... and I knew he was not going to
make too many bogeys.''

Singh looked particularly strong, and motivated.

He is so confident in his swing that he hit driver on holes when
other power players opted for fairway metals or irons, and that set
him up for short irons into the greens.

Singh rolled in a 12-footer on No. 2 and was the first to go
ahead. He took the lead for good on No. 8, when he recovered from
an indifferent wedge into the par 5 by rolling in a 30-foot birdie
putt.

The tournament effectively ended early on the back nine.

Singh's second shot into the par-5 10th covered the flag and
left him a simple two-putt birdie from about 25 feet. Cink, playing
in the final group behind him, came up short of the green and
missed a 10-footer for birdie.

Singh got to 23 under with a 40-foot birdie on the 12th. Across
the pond on the 11th green, Cink missed another excellent birdie
chance from 8 feet.

All that mattered the rest of the way was his margin of victory,
although Woods needed some help on the money list.

With Singh cruising to victory, it was crucial that Woods finish
as high as possible, and he helped his cause by chipping in for
eagle on the 10th hole and making enough putts to slowly climb up
the leaderboard.

Whether it was enough will be determined in two weeks, if not
sooner.

Notes
Tiger Woods was never in contention, although that didn't
seem to matter to a large gallery following him. When the final
group of Scott Verplank, John Rollins and Stewart Cink reached the
fifth green, only 36 people were watching them. ... Hidemichi
Tanaka, the only player to make par or better through the first
three rounds, made a bogey on his first hole Sunday. ... Phil Mickelson shot 66 and tied for 30th. He will have to finish third
next week in Tampa for any chance of making the Tour Championship.
Lefty has never missed the season-ending event since he started
playing a full PGA Tour schedule.