Sony Open preview: Maybe Vijay Singh's not such a dead cert after all
What a difference a year makes. Last January you couldn’t see the news for the Wies as the world’s press, but especially ESPN, gorged themselves on every miniscule scrap of information about the “teen phenom". This year Michelle Wie-loving hacks are so desperate for our attention they’re regurgitating week-old stories about what Stuart Appleby thinks.
It isn’t working, mostly because someone almost old enough to be her grandfather has blazed his way into the headlines instead. Wouldn’t it be sod’s law that Michelle finally achieves her stated ambition to make the cut when everyone’s just about stopped caring?
So come on, hands up who thinks Vijay Singh’s not going to win this week as well? If anyone can do back-to-back it’s Singh. The consistency of his game last week in such tough conditions was remarkable. He has a new swing he’s cool with, he’s gone back to the long/belly/body putter to turn that part of his game around (second for putting last week), he’s full of confidence, fit as a fiddle and promising to come out with a more aggressive game this week. Oh and he won here two years ago, coming from four behind on the final day. Even in last year’s annus horribilis he managed sixth. It’s a brave tipster who goes against that kind of profile isn’t it?
Vijay, and all his cohorts, should have things a good bit easier this week: it will still be windy but not the 30mph gusts of last week. The Waialae Country Club course is shorter, and flatter, offering more opportunity for those who don’t do distance. But the key ingredients are putting and greens in regulation.
Cue David Toms, who thrives in Hawaii and coasted to victory here last year, producing a career low 61 in the process. He was first for putting, second for greens in regulation, ninth for accuracy and 11th for distance off the tee. And guess what, his stats last week were not wholly dissimilar - third for putting, ninth for GIR, seventh for accuracy and 31st for distance. And that despite going two over in the first round - a mixture of rustiness and a new set of clubs. His six under on Sunday was the best round of the tournament.
And then there’s:
Jim Furyk: lacklustre last week, although his distance weakness played a part. But since 2000 the best he’s done is T7 so I’m not too excited.
Trevor Immelman: started the season where he left off last. Top 10 in his last four tournaments and top three in the last two. His greatest problem last week was reading the Hawaiian greens, but maybe he’ll have twigged them by now. If so he could be a big danger.
Luke Donald: subdued last week but still managed seventh on a course he can’t have enjoyed over much. This is more up his street - he’s put in rounds of 65 and 66 here in the past. He just needs to be more consistent.
Davis Love III: a sneaky fourth place with a solid five under on the final day last week must put him in the running, especially since he was third the last time he came here in 2004.
Stuart Appleby: might want to erase the memory of last week’s flop. He has an erratic record in this but was seventh last year.
Stephen Ames: a solid performance last week, his ability in the wind, and decent course form aren’t enough to convince me.
Geoff Ogilvy: has missed the cut the last four times he has played here. Thoughts anyone?
Stewart Cink: unlucky not to be a Tour winner last year, but was tenth here and fifth the year before. First week back though, so not for me.
J B Holmes: the sporting Life’s top tip on the back of both his tenth place last year in his rookie season and his fourth place last week. His all-round stats suggest the kind of profile you might expect of a winner.
Chad Campbell: 31st last week, but this course will suit him better, as he showed last year until the Sunday, when he melted away.
Rory Sabbatini: will be upset with his performance last week after all that practise, and may try to erase the memory with a good performance here. He was second last year, remember.
Bubba Watson: enjoyed this course last year and his stats for everything except accuracy were impressive. No reason why he can’t do something similar if he stayed off the choccys over Christmas.
Nathan Green: had a terrible end to his PGA season last year but a very bright start, including fifth here. A clue maybe? Another is the fact that he’s fresh back from winning the New Zealand Open, which was a fairly windy affair.
PS: Call me thick (as my boss does quite regularly among other things) but I can’t for the life of me work out how they divvy up the FedEx Cup points. The PGA Tour site’s explanation is too basic and when I asked the nice people at PGA Tour HQ how it’s done there followed a silence of epic proportions. Maybe they’re still trying to figure it out themselves. I’ve run several ideas through my spreadsheet to no avail. What am I missing guys? I bet it’s really simple, huh?
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