Singh wins Mercedes Championship by two shots

Updated: January 9, 2007, 12:03 AM ET
Associated Press

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Vijay Singh wasn't interested in the history he made by winning the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Leaderboard
1. Singh (-14)
2. Scott (-12)
3. Immelman (-9)
T-4. Love III (-8)
T-4. MacKenzie (-8)
T-4. Holmes (-8)
• Complete scores

A month away from turning 44, all he cares about is the future.

Coming off his least productive season in five years, Singh reminded a winners-only field at Kapalua that he is still a major force by closing with a 3-under 70 for a two-shot victory over Adam Scott.

It was Singh's 18th victory since turning 40, breaking the PGA Tour record held by Sam Snead.

And Singh became the first player atop the standings in the new FedExCup competition, which the tour has dubbed a "new era in golf." It brought out the old version of Singh, who delivered a strong statement that his best golf is not behind him.

"I wanted this win, and I practiced hard for it," Singh said. "I worked hard and it paid off."

Sobel's Take
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.

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.

Read more of Sobel's take on Vijay Singh. Story

How much longer can he continued to play at this level?

"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."

He had a lot to prove at Kapalua.

Singh had only one victory in his last 35 tournaments, and conventional wisdom held that his body was breaking down. Instead, he worked harder than ever. He worked out twice a day, and hit balls for five hours in between. He promised himself to be ready to play when he arrived at the season-opening tournament, and he was in command at Kapalua from the start.

Singh doubled the size of his three-shot lead after two holes and played the final 29 holes in blustery conditions without a bogey. Only a late charge by Scott kept it interesting.

"You don't throw in the towel ever, no matter what," said Scott, who trailed by five shots with seven to play and narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 17th that would have trimmed the lead to one. "It wasn't quite enough."

Singh finished at 14-under 278 and earned $1.1 million to push him over $50 million for his career. It was his 30th career victory, tying him with Leo Diegel for 16th for career victories on the PGA Tour.

Vijay Singh
Eric Risberg/AP PhotoVijay Singh finished 14-under in the Mercedes Championship to claim his 30th PGA Tour victory.

And he earned 4,500 points for the new FedExCup competition, a season-long points race. The tour's promotion has been so strong that Singh said earlier this week he was tired of listening to it. All he wanted to do was win tournaments, and he took care of that quickly.

Scott wound up missing his 3-foot comeback putt for par on the 17th, and a birdie on the 18th made the margin look closer. Scott closed with a 69, enough to move up to No. 3 in the world ahead of Phil Mickelson.

"I'm sneaking up there," Scott said. "It's a nice thing, but until you're No. 1 it's no big deal. I don't think I'm going to be there anytime soon."

Trevor Immelman birdied the 18th for a 72 to finish third.

Singh was not aware of Snead's record until someone mentioned it during the trophy presentation. He has read Snead's books and was mesmerized by his rhythmic swing. But the record didn't mean much.

"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.

But it's no less impressive. Singh has 18 victories and one major in his 40s, which is about the equivalent of a career for Davis Love III. And as determined as he is to win, there's no telling how much longer he will stay at this level.

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

His victory ended Stuart Appleby's three-year reign at Kapalua. Appleby, who finished 10 shots behind, had won the last three years by a combined four shots over Singh.

If anyone thought Singh's bad fortune on Maui would continue, he quickly put that to rest.

He hammered his opening tee shot so far that it went through the fairway, but his approach stopped 5 feet away for birdie. Singh holed a 12-foot birdie on the next hole, and the rout was on as his challengers fell apart.

Scott took bogey from the bunker on No. 2 and three-putted for bogey on the fourth. Immelman three-putted his first two holes, and fell further behind when he came up short of the fourth green and dropped another shot.

About the only player who tried to make a move was Will MacKenzie, and even he ran into a few problem. After opening with a bogey, golf's free spirit ran off three straight birdies to get within four shots. But he failed to birdie the par-5 fifth, and after blasting a tee shot just short of the green on 398-yard sixth, he bladed a wedge over the green into deep rough and took bogey.

"I was really, really focused to do well," Singh said. "I started off beautifully, and nobody was going to catch me."

Singh sailed along under a cloudy sky and wind not nearly as fierce as it has been the first three days. He made eight consecutive pars until a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 12th to extend his lead to five shots, and didn't flinch when Scott made his charge.

Divots
David Toms put himself in a good frame of mind for his title defense next week in Honolulu. He closed with a 67, the lowest score all week on the Plantation course. ... Chris Couch holed out from 176 yards in the rough on No. 7 for eagle on his way to a 70. ... Ben Curtis met his target Sunday by finishing his round before the leaders teed off. Playing alone, Curtis was done in 2 hours, 35 minutes. And while it might be a small consolation, he improved his score each day -- 81-78-77-76. The former British Open champion and three-time winner on the PGA Tour, who rarely plays in the offseason, also finished last in his other Mercedes-Benz Championship appearance in 2004.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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