AT&T round three: It's hard to see past Singh
Saturday was a tale of two putters. Phil Mickelson went from 26 putts per round on Friday to 33 (and nearly 2 putts per green in regulation) while Vijay Singh went from 32 putts in round two to 28 on Saturday (1.6 PPG). Not hard to figure who’s top of the leaderboard and who missed the cut.
Mickelson’s dramatic exit must be especially hard because the rest of his game was clearly coming round. He actually equalled Singh for finding greens Saturday, topping 80 per cent for only the second round this season. His accuracy off the tee was almost the same. But in the face of a really bad putting day he pushed it on the 14th with appalling consequences - 11 strokes on a par 5! Lefty’s season came off the rails big time at that moment.
He sounds remarkably complacent about his troubles. Admittedly he got off to a bad start with that illness, but so far this season he averages just 61 per cent for accuracy off the tee, 66 per cent for greens in regulation, 28 putts per round (and 1.8 putts per GIR), and even his distance figures are nothing to shout home about at an average of just over 280. These are nowhere near where the next best thing to Tiger Woods should be.
Lefty has played some really great golf this season, some of it in this competition. But he hasn’t played enough of it.
Then again neither had Singh until his putter suddenly fizzed into life on Saturday. Maybe he read my suggestion that once he worked out which end of it was up he’d do just fine! Question is, of course, which putter do we see in round four?
Those around Vijay don’t inspire a whole lot of confidence: veterans for whom victory is a distant and infrequent memory, or rookies untested in the Sunday pressure cooker at this level.
The omens stack up for Vijay too. There was a time when players thought nothing of zipping in to win from three or four shots back. But not since 2003, when the Sunday morning leader has invariably gone on to claim the spoils. And the pressure will be on his co-leader Dudley Hart, who desperately needs the money to gain exempt status for this year (1st or 2nd should do).
Vijay did fluff his lines at last year’s Canadian Open when he was the Sunday morning leader, but that was to Jim Furyk. So it’s a brave man that takes Vijay on in the market Sunday. Let’s face it, even when his putting was rubbish this week he hit under par. It could need a brave - and probably lucky - round to beat him.
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