Hyde: Hop­ing Singh wins to­day

At 56, Vi­jay Singh is set to make his­tory if he wins Honda Clas­sic.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page -

PALM BEACH GAR­DENS — I hope Vi­jay Singh wins the Honda Clas­sic on Sun­day, be­cause he’s at an age no one wins in sports. Even in a time-elas­tic sport like golf, no one wins at Singh’s 56. He can do it, too, as he’s only one shot off the lead af­ter Sat­ur­day’s third round.

But in my heart I don’t ex­pect Singh to win. I ex­pect the very things that make him such a good story to be his un­do­ing. I ex­pect youth to win, which is the way Dar­win typ­i­cally works in sports.

“It would be great,” said Singh of win­ning this tour­na­ment. “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.” Some will say it wouldn’t be good for golf if Singh wins. You never see 56-year-olds hit­ting home runs or swish­ing jump shots or beat­ing kids half their age, their ar­gu­ment goes. This would ex­tend the tired ques­tion of whether golf is even a sport.

The bet­ter point, the real rea­son to root for Singh, is no one wins at this age in golf, ei­ther. Sam Snead holds the record for be­ing the old­est player to win a tour­na­ment. He was

52 years old in 1965. Singh not only looks ready to chal­lenge that record but to put the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of golfers in their place, too.

“Kids don’t prac­tice any­more,” he said at one point Sat­ur­day.

Get off his green. Singh at­tributes a sur­prise resur­gence this tour­na­ment to age-old golf stuff. Us­ing a new put­ter. Putting drives in the fair­way for a change. And scor­ing like he did in bor­row­ing Tiger Woods’ No. 1 rank­ing once upon a dis­tant time.

“I played like I know how,” he said af­ter Sat­ur­day’s round of 5-un­der. “I just let it go and the swing was a lot more free. This is how I used to play. I don’t know what I found. But I’m go­ing to see if it’s all there [Sun­day].”

There’s an­other rea­son Singh has a chance to win and you can’t be re­miss in ig­nor­ing it. Only three of the top 21 golfers are at this tour­na­ment. It’s a de­pleted field. Sand­wiched be­tween the World Golf Clas­sic event in Mex­ico and Bay Hill in Or­lando, even Woods passed on his back­yard tour­na­ment.

But if hav­ing a mere sprin­kling of top tal­ent means less on the mar­quee, it tells why an old guy on a hot run has a chance at a his­toric end­ing. Singh had been so far out of the dis­cus­sion in golf, for so long peo­ple can’t even re­mem­ber when he last won.

“You haven’t won on the PGA Tour since 2011,” a golf re­porter’s ques­tion be­gan Sat­ur­day.

“2008,” Singh in­ter­rupted.

He missed cuts in the two PGA tour­na­ments he en­tered this year and fin­ished 29th on the Cham­pi­ons tour. He’s played 28 tour events the past two years and fin­ished twice in the top 25. He made a per­sonal ul­ti­ma­tum be­fore this tour­na­ment to do bet­ter in his next three tour­na­ments or ban­ish him­self to just the Cham­pi­ons tour.

Hey, you can’t fool your­self for­ever. And at 56?

“They should give me a cart [Sun­day],” he said. “I de­serve one.”

Singh is old enough that he won the Honda Clas­sic

20 years ago at one of its pre­vi­ous stops, Heron Bay in Coral Springs. He’d been a pro for nine years when his part­ner in Sun­day’s fi­nal pair­ing, Wen­dell Clark, was born. Clark is 25.

“It’s not sur­pris­ing to me,” said Rickie Fowler,

30, who is one shot be­hind Singh in third place. “He’s some­one that is a grinder and has al­ways been known as a ball striker. We’ll see what hap­pens. Hope­fully, I can go out and out­last him.”

The se­cret sauce for Singh might be sim­ple hard work. He and Woods pop­u­lar­ized weight train­ing in golf. His reg­i­ment in­volves pool work and con­stant weight work beyond the driv­ing range.

Af­ter Sat­ur­day’s round, Singh’s 27-year-old play­ing part­ner, Talor Gooch, went straight off the course. Singh went to the driv­ing range. An hour later, he was still one of three golfers prac­tic­ing there.

I ex­pect every­one of a cer­tain age is root­ing for Singh on Sun­day. I also ex­pect every­one of that age to think youth will win out.

Dave Hyde

MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY-AFP

Vi­jay Singh, 56, who hasn’t won since 2008. He trails by one shot af­ter three rounds of the Honda Clas­sic.

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