Singh, at 56, in fi­nal pair­ing at PGA event

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY TIM REYNOLDS As­so­ci­ated Press

Vi­jay Singh’s last PGA Tour vic­tory in 2008. His only win at The Honda Clas­sic was in 1999, on a course that he couldn’t re­mem­ber. And he ar­rived at PGA Na­tional a few days ago won­der­ing if his game is still good enough for him to be com­pet­i­tive with the younger gen­er­a­tion.

So far, he’s got to like what he’s see­ing.

And he’ll have a shot Sun­day at mak­ing his­tory.

Singh – who turned 56 on Feb. 22 – has a chance to be­come the old­est win­ner ever on the PGA Tour. His round of 5-un­der 65 on Sat­ur­day put him at 6 un­der for the week, one shot be­hind leader Wyn­d­ham Clark. They’ll be in the fi­nal pair­ing Sun­day. Singh has been a pro longer than the 25-year-old Clark has been alive.

“It would be great,” Singh said when asked what a win would mean at his age. “I’ve worked pretty hard. I’m phys­i­cally quite ca­pa­ble of do­ing it. Men­tally, I’m go­ing to go out there and see how my mind works. If I just don’t let any­thing in­ter­fere, I think I can do it.”

There have been seven play­ers to win on the PGA Tour af­ter their 50th birth­day, the old­est Sam Snead at 52 years, 10 months, 8 days in the 1965 Greater Greens­boro Open. Singh will be eight days re­moved from his 56th birth­day Sun­day.

“He’s been one of the game’s best,” said Rickie Fowler, who was alone in fifth at 5 un­der fol­low­ing his round of 66. “He’s a ball-striker. He’s not as long as he used to be, but on this golf course you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be long. It’s about get­ting the ball in the fairway and hit­ting your lines and hit­ting num­bers. You don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to go out and do any­thing spe­cial.”

Singh, Keith Mitchell ( 70) and Kyeong-Hoon Lee (68) are all one shot off Clark’s lead. Clark started in siz­zling fash­ion, open­ing with five birdies in his first seven holes be­fore giv­ing a bit back as the wind started to pick up at PGA Na­tional.

Fore­cast­ers say the breezes will only get stronger from here, and that means Sun­day could be wild. There were 28 play­ers within five shots of the lead. Brooks Koepka ( 70), first-round leader Jhonat­tan Ve­gas (69) and Michael Thomp­son (66) were 4 un­der, and Ser­gio Gar­cia shot 70 for the sec­ond straight day to reach 3 un­der.

Clark’s run of 122 con­sec­u­tive holes with­out a three-putt ended at the par-3 15th, the start of the three-hole “Bear Trap” stretch. But he made enough good shots to end the day alone on the 54hole lead.

“I felt like I man­aged where I hit the ball,” Clark said. “I put it in good spots. As long as I keep giv­ing my­self chances to make putts, I think I can win.”

The first time Singh played the Honda was 1994. Clark, who was three shots clear of the field at one point Sat­ur­day, was about 2 months old at the time. When Singh got to PGA Na­tional early in the week, the first thing he did was set out for a five-hour prac­tice ses­sion – one of the many trade­marks of his ca­reer.

He’s us­ing a longer put­ter, some­thing he says Bern­hard Langer talked him into try­ing. Even though there’s more than a few gray hairs wisp­ing out from be­neath his vi­sor, Singh is still in ex­cel­lent shape and says there’s no ten­sion or pain in his body.

“It’s work, de­ter­mi­na­tion, be­liev­ing in what I be­lieve in,” said Singh, who sur­vived a su­per­windy Sun­day to win the 1999 Honda at Her­ron Bay by two shots over Payne Ste­wart. “I just feel like if I play like I did to­day … when you aim at a tar­get and swing the way you’re sup­posed to and the ball comes out, that’s the best feel­ing in the world.”

Win­ning Sun­day would be a pretty good feel­ing as well.

WILFREDO LEE AP

Wyn­d­ham Clark ac­knowl­edges the gallery af­ter putting on the fourth hole dur­ing Sat­ur­day’s third round of the Honda Clas­sic in Palm Beach Gar­dens, Fla.

Vi­jay Singh

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