Singh ups the ante with Disney win
Don't look now, but Tiger Woods is no longer at the wheel.
Vijay Singh put himself squarely in the driver's seat Sunday, wrestling the money-list lead away from Woods by winning the Funai Classic at Disney. Woods finished four shots back, tied for second.
Singh has a better chance than anyone in the last four years of ending Woods' money-list reign, sitting $250,094 ahead of him with just two events remaining. More significant is that Vijay is playing in both tournaments while Woods is entered in just one.
Singh was the most confident player at Disney on Sunday, turning a four-way tie for the lead on the first hole into a four-stroke ho-hum victory on the 18th. He carded a 5-under 67 for his round, building a healthy lead with five birdies on his first 12 holes.
"I hope I don't wake up from this dream," Singh said after his fourth victory of the season.
At age 40, Singh is playing the best golf of his career. In his last 10 tournaments, he has two wins, three runner-up finishes (including one in a major) and four other top-10s. He'll be No. 2 in the world -- his highest position ever -- when the new rankings come out Monday.
The win also made Singh a serious contender for Player of the Year. He trails only Tiger in number of victories, and he leads the tour in top-10 finishes with 16 in 25 events (including two at majors). The way he's been playing, another win wouldn't be a stretch for Vijay -- particularly because he'll be the defending champion at the Tour Championship.
Some facts and figures from Singh's victory:
|Around the tours ...|
Funai Classic at Walt Disney World
Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Walt Disney World Resort
(7,190 yards, par 72)
(6,957 yards, par 72)
1 Vijay Singh (-23)
T2 Tiger Woods
T2 Scott Verplank
T2 Stewart Cink
T5 Davis Love III
T5 John Rollins
T7 Michael Clark II
T7 Bob Estes
T9 Bob Tway
T9 Rocco Mediate
T9 Geoff Ogilvy
Ernie Els is second on the active cut-streak list with 26 -- a whopping 87 events behind Tiger.
Woods said he was proud of matching Nelson's long-held record, but it's obvious another historic achievement isn't as high on his priority list.
Tiger can become the first player in history to win five straight money titles, but he fell behind Singh on the money list Sunday. Singh, who already has played in eight more events than Tiger, will make that nine when he tees it up in Tampa this week.
So why isn't Woods adding the Chrysler Championship -- the final full-field event of the season -- to his schedule in an attempt to regain the lead from Vijay?
"It's important, but it's not that important," Woods said Sunday of winning the money title. "If [Singh] has it wrapped up, so be it. Anybody would rather have Player of the Year than the money title."
Singh can put the title away for good with a victory in Tampa, but that's a risk Tiger is willing to take. He said he'd rather prepare for the Tour Championship in two weeks.
Watson finished runner-up at the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday, securing the season-long points race -- and the $1 million prize. After hoisting the Cup on Sunday afternoon in Sonoma, Watson announced that he'd be donating the $1 million to help fight ALS, which Edwards -- who has been Watson's caddie for 30 years -- suffers from.
Edwards, whose speech has been slurred by the disease and who is unsure whether he'll be toting the bag for Watson again next year, smiled broadly as his boss accepted the Cup.
Jim Thorpe won the event (thanks in part to a 67-foot eagle putt on the 16th hole Sunday), but Watson remained No. 1 on the money list by a mere $23,000. The first season on the Champions Tour has to be considered a success, with 25 different winners and an invigorated roster of players.
Pak was the sixth woman to tee it up against the guys this season. Annika Sorenstam (PGA Tour), Suzy Whaley (PGA Tour), Michelle Wie (Nationwide, Canadian tours), Laura Davies (Asian PGA Tour) and Jan Stephenson (Champions Tour) came before her, and only Stephenson made the weekend -- and that was only because there was no cut (she finished tied for last).
Pak, meanwhile, did much more than earn playing privileges for Saturday and Sunday; she posted a top-10 finish in a field of 126. However, her accomplishment can't exactly be put on par with Sorenstam's performance at the Colonial, where she missed the cut by four strokes.
Sorenstam did it on a tough layout against the best players in the world, while Pak competed at an event (SBS Super Tournament) that's not sanctioned by one of the six circuits that make up the worldwide federation of tours.
Shin Yong-jin, the money leader on the Korean tour, said the 7,052-yard course was set up to benefit Pak.
"I think the course was made to have Se Ri Pak make the cut," Shin told The Associated Press. "I knew she would make the cut even before coming into the game."
Pak, who sits second on the money list behind Sorenstam, said Sunday that she'd relish the chance to compete in a PGA Tour event.
Song, who was given special permission to become a member before her 18th birthday should she qualify, finished tied for fifth. LPGA rules stipulate that players must be at least 18 to become members unless they show they can handle professional and financial responsibilities.
Song has made the cut in all six major championships she has played since 2000, including fifth place in the U.S. Women's Open at Pumpkin Ridge. She finished two strokes out of a playoff won by Hilary Lunke.
"Aree has demonstrated the ability to compete at the highest level in LPGA events as an amateur during the past four years," commissioner Ty Votaw said in August. "For that reason and more, if she is able to qualify for the tour ... I will permit Aree to play."
Song will turn 18 on May 1.
David Lefort is ESPN.com's golf editor, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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