Singh flies flag for older brigade at Phoenix Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2003 Phoenix Open | Wrap | 27 Jan 2003
Five birdies in the first six holes in the final round of any tournament is going to make you some serious progress and Vijay Singh’s opening salvo at the Phoenix Open did just that. Starting the last round two behind overnight leader Harrison Frazar, Singh opened with a run of five birdies in those six holes and that included a ho hum par at the par five third, a hole he would have considered one of his best early chances. By the time he had reached the turn he had established a two shot lead over John Huston and by three over Frazar and while the result was not fait accompli at that point, it was going to prove a difficult task for those behind to chase down the Fijian.
Three more birdies and a bogey proved too much of a hurdle for those chasing to overcome and in the end the 39-year-old (he turns forty on Feb 22nd) cruised to a three shot win over Huston with Robert Gamez, Retief Goosen, Harrison Frazar and Tim Petrovic sharing third.
Huston is playing very well of late. He put together a string of good finishes late last season and appears headed for yet another good season. He has played well at the Bob Hope before so may well figure this coming week. He and Singh flew the flag for the older brigade and in fact in an era where so much talk is about the young up and comers none of the top ten finishers here were under thirty.
Gamez also appears now close to his best once again. After a shocking year in 2001 when he made but six cuts in twenty-two starts, he has slowly remerged with a solid year last year and a twelfth place last week in Hawaii and now this third place here.
For Singh this was his twelfth career win in the US all coming since his first win at the Buick Classic in 1993. His win takes him beyond $US19,000,000 in career earnings and he is ranked fourth on the all time money list.
Of the Australasians, a marvellous tournament early in the PGA Tour career of James McLean. McLean attended the University of Minnesota and was not seen much as an amateur here in Australia but in 1998 while on the Gopher’s team won the NCAA Championship. He made steady progress on the Buy.Com Tour last season and then by finishing second at the Tour School late last year guaranteed himself a run of early season starts. While not exactly a high finish, his thirty second placing will go a long way towards settling some early season nerves. Keen observers have said that McLean is a fine talent whose game is in the process of trimming off the rougher edges. Look to him to be perhaps a surprise packet amongst the Australians this year.
Steve Elkington and Rod Pampling were 43rd, Robert Allenby 49th, Peter Lonard 56th and Mark Hensby 58th.
The surprise of the tournament, perhaps, was Aaron Baddeley missing the cut, just a week after losing in a playoff to Ernie Els at the 2003 Sony Open. Baddeley will have a chance to redeem himself at this week at the Bob Hope Classic.