Vijay beats Tiger down the stretch at the Deutsche Bank Championship, ends a 264-week record run in the top spot.
By Associated Press
Published September 7, 2004
NORTON, Mass. - Vijay Singh has played the best golf in the world for a long time. Now he has the No. 1 ranking to prove it.
Singh finished his long climb to the top of golf's leaderboard by beating Tiger Woods in a head-to-head matchup, shooting 69 on Monday to win the PGA's Deutsche Bank Championship by three strokes and claim Woods' long-held spot as the top player in the world.
It was Singh's sixth victory this year, enough to convince the computers that crunch the numbers what many have said for months.
"Finally it's turned into my favor," said Singh, who birdied three of the last four holes to win the $900,000 first prize. "I've worked pretty hard for this. I finally achieved what I wanted to do starting at the beginning of the year.
"It was a good win, as well. Coming down the stretch got pretty tight there, but I got focused, and I played pretty good coming down."
Woods was No. 1 for more than five years - a record 264 consecutive weeks - in the rankings that consider performance over two years and factor the strength of field. Singh had winnowed Woods' lead to 12.09-11.91 heading into the Deutsche Bank, needing only to finish ahead of Woods to pass him.
The new numbers had Singh, who won the PGA Championship last month, at 12.72 points to Woods' 12.27, making Singh the first player other than Woods to hold the No. 1 ranking since Aug. 8, 1999.
"That's not too bad, is it? I've had a good run," Woods said. "I'm not disappointed about the ranking. I'm disappointed in not winning. ... Winning takes care of the ranking."
Singh and Woods were tied at 13 under after Singh bogeyed the 13th hole, but Woods bogeyed the next and Singh birdied No. 15 to pull ahead by two. The 41-year-old Fijian added birdies on the final two holes at the par-71, 7,415 TPC of Boston to finish 16 under, three ahead of Woods and defending champion Adam Scott.
"It was a golf tournament to me. It wasn't about the ranking," said Singh, who has won the past nine times he took a lead into the final round.
Adam Scott started the day seven behind Singh before making the turn with four consecutive birdies to get into contention. He birdied the 18th for 65 to move into second place at 13 under, and Woods' 69 matched him. John Rollins (67) and Daniel Chopra (68) were at 10 under.
Singh took a three-stroke lead into the final day and made it four when he moved to 15 under with birdie on the first hole.
But the lead withered on the front nine and disappeared when Woods chipped in for birdie on 12 after Singh went over the green with an 8-iron on 13. Singh missed a 7-footer to save par.
That left them tied at 13 under with Scott one stroke back.
On 14, a 485-yard par 4, Woods and Singh were 6 inches apart on the green, about 9 feet from the pin. Singh sank his putt to save par, but Wood pulled his left for bogey. On the par-5 15th their drives landed 6 yards apart on the fairway, but Singh put his approach within 4 feet and Woods was 17 feet from the flag. Singh picked up another birdie to move to minus-14 and Woods two-putted for par.
After making another birdie on 17 to expand his lead to three, Singh smiled and seemed to relax. He acknowledged the cheers of the crowd for the first time all day.
David Duval, the last person to be ranked No. 1 before Wood's stranglehold began, made a cut for the first time in 15 months. He finished tied for 13th for $93,750 - more than he has made in 24 events since the start of the 2003 season. He double-bogeyed the first hole for the second straight day but shot 67-279.
OBITUARY: Harvie Ward, a two-time U.S. Amateur champion and a top teaching pro whose clients included the late Payne Stewart, died in Pinehurst, N.C., after a long illness. He was 78.
"He was an extremely fine player and one of the fiercest amateur competitors I ever knew," Arnold Palmer said.
Mr. Ward won the NCAA championship at North Carolina in 1949, then rose to prominence by winning the U.S. Amateur in 1955 and 1956, and the British Amateur in 1952. He also won the Canadian Amateur in 1954 and played on three Walker Cup teams.
"Harvie was a wonderful man and one of the great amateur players of his era," said Jack Nicklaus, who lost to Ward in the early rounds of the 1958 U.S. Amateur.