Singh Set Up for Career Slam
This is an article from the April 24, 2000 issue
All of a sudden Vijay Singh is a major player in the majors.
With his win at the Masters, Singh joins John Daly and Tiger
Woods as the only men under 40 with victories in two Grand Slam
Although Singh is 37, he has the inside track on becoming the
fifth man to win a career Grand Slam. His record at
Augusta--before this year, his best finish was 17th, in
1997--indicated that the Masters would be the most difficult major
for him to win. Now that he has that title, as well as a PGA,
Singh can home in on the U.S. and British Opens, events in which
he has played well. He has finished in the top 10 in three of the
last five U.S. Opens, including a tie for third last year at
Pinehurst, where he was in the thick of things all the way. In 11
British Opens, Singh has been among the top 20 in six, his best
result being a tie for sixth in '95 at St. Andrews, where the
Open returns this year.
The question always posed after the Masters is, Can the winner
of the year's first major win the following three? The odds are
longer than a downwind drive, but Singh brings as good a track
record to the other majors as anyone in the game. Although he
has never played in a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he tied for
second in this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. We saw
on Saturday at Augusta what Singh can do in the wind, which
bodes well for him at St. Andrews, and Valhalla, the site of
this year's PGA, is where Singh narrowly lost the event in '96.
Singh's career seems to be reaching its apex. Years of
relentless practice have produced one of the most powerful and
reliable swings in the game. Singh has one of the finest caddies
on Tour in Dave Renwick, who has brought home winners in four
majors--Singh twice, Jose Maria Olazabal at the '94 Masters and
Steve Elkington at the '95 PGA. Singh is also happy with his
recent switch from cavity-backed irons to traditional blades,
which, he says, allow him to maneuver the ball more easily, and
to a driver--the Mizuno 300S--that USGA technical director Frank
Thomas says "just barely" passed the association's test for
Most important, Singh has, at least for the time being, shored
up what had been the one weakness in his game--putting. Since
February's Nissan Open, Singh has been using an obscure putter
called the Dandy. Singh may never be a great putter, but as he
showed at Augusta, being a steady one is good enough when you're
a superior ball striker.
Not that we needed proof, but Seve Ballesteros's remarkable
upset of Colin Montgomerie in the Ballesteros Trophy underscores
the fact that he is one of the greatest match players ever.
Overcoming career-killing swing flaws, the 43-year-old Spaniard
led his European side to a one-point win over Great
Britain-Ireland, thus making a contrived event memorable.
What do these players have in common?
They're the only men under 50 who have won three or more majors.
Should the tours support the NAACP's boycott of South Carolina
by canceling their tournaments in that state?
--Based on 5,075 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Would you use an illegal driver if it added 15
yards to your tee shots? Vote at golfplus.cnnsi.com.
SYNONYMS for a LONG PUTT
Bomb, coast to coast, cross-country, dive-bomber, from downtown,
Draino, field mouse, long distance, Luc Longley, monster,
no-brainer, Pierce-Arrow, Purina, python, roller coaster,
seagoer, snake, surgical strike, swish, Yahtzee!
A record 509 courses opened in the U.S. in 1999, according to
the National Golf Foundation. These states had the most new
Total (Rank) New
Florida 1,231 (1) 36
California 986 (2) 36
Texas 881 (4) 31
Michigan 951 (3) 28
Ohio 818 (6) 26
Lynne Cowan, Davis, Calif.
Cowan, 37, paired with Lyn Nelson to lead a team of amateurs to
a 14-10 victory over a squad of pros in the Northern California
Cup in Hollister. Cowan and Nelson shot even par in their match
against Katherine Marren and Carla Medina, and scored 3 1/2 out
of a possible four points. Last year Cowan won the state amateur
Mallory Code, Tampa
Whitney Code, Tampa
Mallory, 15, defeated her 17-year-old sister, Whitney, one up in
the final of the Greater Tampa Junior Golf Association Match
Play. Mallory, the No. 3 seed, beat Jennifer Ayers 5 and 3 in the
semifinals to reach the championship match. Whitney, the No. 1
seed and defending champ, qualified for the final by beating
Elizabeth Stuart 3 and 1. In the championship match Mallory
birdied the par-3 16th hole to go one up and parred in for the
victory. Last May, Whitney won the Class 6A state championship
and led Chamberlain High to the team title. The sisters are
homeschooled but are allowed to play for their local public high
school by state law. Whitney is on the U.S. Izzo Cup team that
will play against a team of Scandinavian juniors in Stockholm in
Submit FACES candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
JAIME'S TOP 10
Commercials for golf products used to be the dregs, but in
recent years they've improved dramatically. Last week
puttermaker Never Compromise broke new ground by airing a
30-minute infomercial in which Jean Van de Velde replays the
18th hole at Carnoustie--he made a triple-bogey 7 there last
July to lose the British Open--using only a putter. (In three
tries, he finally makes a 6.) Here are the top 10 golf
commercials ever made.
1. Odyssey Parodying the claims made by other putter companies,
Bob Rosburg says nothing but, "Blah, blah, blah." My take: This
1994 spot not only broke away from a dull recitation of
technical mumbo-jumbo but also spoofed it.
2. Nike Tiger Woods bounces a ball on a wedge. My take: This
casual but intimate slice of genius connected the brand to the
coolness of the act.
3. Nike I am Tiger Woods. My take: It goes to the heart of what
Woods means to the game. He inspires kids and minorities.
4. Cobra George Bayer and Tommy Bolt play some "flat-bellies."
My take: When Bayer says, "Tommy, I've got that fire in the
belly again," Bolt's deadpan response, "Don't worry, there's a
bathroom on the next hole," is a kicker for the ages.
5. Nike Woods and others hit shots in sync on a range. My take:
This ad taps into two ideas. Woods is playing better than anyone
ever has, and we play better after watching the pros.
6. Foot-Joy Sign Boy. My take: Inside every fan lurks a
sycophant like Sign Boy.
7. Pinnacle Long-drive champ Jason Zuback hits a ball through
the Eiffel Tower. My take: Putting golf in an incongruous
setting reinforces the universality of the game.
8. LPGA The Annika Sorenstam-Karrie Webb rivalry. My take: This
is the most entertaining self-promotion these two have done. The
KICK ME sign that Sorenstam puts on Webb is inspired.
9. AT&T David Duval and Paul Reiser playing golf together. My
take: Reiser is funny, and Duval is a born straight man.
10. PGA Tour These guys are good. My take: The best of the
series has several Senior stars yelling "Pull!" then hitting
balls at clay pigeons, a portrayal of these old masters that's
FAMILY Husband: Kirk Lucas
DISTINCTION In February became the 37th player to top $2 million
in career earnings.
BALLET IS A HOBBY "I danced all through junior high and high
school, then took it up again three years ago to get in better
shape. When I'm home, I take classes with little girls. It's fun
because they're so sweet to the old lady. Ballet helps my golf. I
have to focus. I can't let a mistake fluster me."
WHAT WAS BEN HOGAN LIKE? "While I played at TCU, our family
joined Shady Oaks, around 1984. At first everyone warned me not
to speak to Mr. Hogan. But I'm from South Dakota [the family
moved to Fort Worth when she was 19], where people are less
guarded, and after a while I talked to him like I did to
everybody else. He loved being treated like that, and he was
just my friend. He had a playful streak. I would be hitting
balls, and he'd drive by in his cart and throw me a Snickers bar
and say, 'That's your lunch,' and drive off with a smile. Mr.
Hogan would watch me hit balls and hardly say a word. I was
nervous the first time, but after that I'd go into the dining
room and ask him to come out. I played with him once, and it was
the last time he ever played. It was on the back nine at Shady
Oaks. He had trouble with depth perception because of his bad
left eye, but he shot par from the back tees. He was still
pretty long, and he hit a couple of amazing, low wedges that
took one hop and stopped. He was very serious when he played,
just like he was when he practiced. One day he was hitting
drivers, and when we went out to pick up the balls, they were
all in a 20-yard circle. I said, 'Mr. Hogan, that's a pretty
good pattern.' He grunted and said, 'I can do better.'"
ON GAMBLING WITH CINDY FLOM "My second or third year on tour, my
dad said, 'Kris, you need to get tougher. Can you get in some
money games?' I wondered if the veterans would let me in, but
Dad said, 'You're 110th on the money list. They'll let you in.'
I had heard Cindy gambled, so we started to play every Tuesday.
We play for 25, 25 and 50, with automatic two-down presses and
one-downs on 9 and 18. We call it the Game, and sometimes it
extends to the practice green."
ON HAVING HER HUSBAND AS HER SWING COACH AND CADDIE "It has
never been a problem. First, the changes we've worked on have
made me 20 yards longer, and I have total trust in him as a
teacher. Second, I love the weeks he caddies, but it's only
about five or six times a year."