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Singh quiet, happy -- and lurking

6/17/2004

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- Oh, yeah. Vijay Singh is playing in the U.S. Open.

You remember Singh. Couple of majors, including The Masters in 2000. Three wins and $4.6 million on the PGA Tour this year. Four top-10s in the U.S. Open.

But this week at Shinnecock Hills, the guy is about as stealth as a 6-foot-2, 200-pound Fijian can be. The spotlight has been on Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia -- even Jim Furyk and David Duval, who have about as much chance of winning the Open as Singh has of winning Miss Congeniality at the media barbecue.

Not that he minds. In fact, he says he's downright content with his life.

"I think your whole life should be consistent," said Singh. "I'm very happy with what I've been doing on and off the golf course. I have a great family. I'm happy with what I've been doing."

Singh won this year at Pebble Beach, and followed it up with wins at Houston and New Orleans. He was fourth last week at Westchester. And he tied for 10th here nine years ago.

"I've been playing better golf than I did last year," Singh said of a year in which he won the money title, but lost out to Tiger Woods for player of the year. "I'm dealing with pressure a little bit better this year than I did last year, and I think it's giving me a chance coming down the stretch. I can deal with it better this year."

He'll start dealing Thursday at 1:10 p.m. on the first tee, with Stewart Cink and Canadian Stephen Ames.

The Hole Truth
Everybody's talking about the par-3 7th, 189 yards to a Redan green that tiles from front-to-back, right-to-left. Birdies will be rare. Long and left is nasty; right and short are jail.

"You can't stop the ball on the green," said Singh. And remember, he's just being polite.

The USGA is taking care to try and make the hole playable. Nobody wants a repeat of the 18th green at The Olympic Club, where players putted off the front edge because there wasn't enough grass to hold the ball.

Course workers were seen watering the green extensively on Wednesday in an effort to get the ball to stop.

The seventh wasn't the most punishing hole nine years ago. That honor went to the hole before it, the 471-yard par-4 sixth, which had a 4.41 average.

The par-5 fifth was the easiest hole (an average of 4.72). Ironically, the par-5 16th, short by today's standards at only 540 yards, played over par in both 1986 (5.022) and 1995 (5.125).

The Weather
Wednesday's final practice round was hot and humid, with highs in the mid-80s. Perfect for drying out the course and getting a little extra in the rough. Thursday should be cooler -- mid-70s -- with possible thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.

On TV

  • ESPN: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET

  • NBC: 3 p.m.-5 p.m. ET

  • ESPN: 5-7 p.m. ET

  • ESPN (best of the first round): 8-11 p.m. ET

    Nine years ago
    Corey Pavin won at even par (and took home $350,000 -- which is nearly $1 million less than this year's winner will receive).

    A total of 31 players in the 2004 U.S. Open were in the 1995 field. Nine played in both 1986 and 1995. Aside from Pavin, Davis Love III, Jeff Maggert, Phil Mickelson and Jay Haas all tied for fourth, while Lee Janzen, Bob Tway and Singh tied for 10th.

    Tiger Woods, still an amateur, withdrew after injuring his wrist.

    Did you know
    The spot on the 18th fairway where Pavin hit his famous 4-wood to the green when he won the '95 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills? The place where Shinnecock groundskeepers find divot after divot as players drop ball after ball trying to repeat the feat?

    It's now in the rough.