Hyde: Hoping Singh wins today
At 56, Vijay Singh is set to make history if he wins Honda Classic.
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.
Vijay Singh, 56, who hasn’t won since 2008. He trails by one shot after three rounds of the Honda Classic.