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Singh deserves top ranking for all his hard work

By Ignacio Garrido,
Contributor

Vijay SinghThis week there is a new No. 1 in the world rankings: Vijay Singh.

I have to say that if you win five tournaments on the PGA Tour in one year and the PGA Championship, you deserve to be No. 1. It is a great reward for one of the most hard working golfers on tour.

I had the chance to share field with him at the Volvo PGA at Wentworth and at The Open at Troon and it's impressive to see him practising. He spends hours and hours in the driving range giving 100 percent in each shot.

We both had a great time at Wentworth getting dressed in the locker room celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Volvo PGA Championship. We are not used to wear black-tie suits and we were making of ourselves dressed like penguins.

Vijay was desperately looking for the belt loops of the suit - I told him those suits don't have belt loops and I had to help him to put on his 'kit.' We really enjoyed that moment.

On the European Tour, this week we travel to Cologne, Germany, to play the Linde German Masters.

It's a great tournament with a $3m prize fund and a great field of players. I found the course really tough this year. It's a U.S. Open-style layout: very high rough, narrow fairways and fast greens. Straight hitters from the tee have an advantage this week.

Ignacio GarridoAs an example I can tell you that on Thursday's round I had to hit four provisional balls from the tee. When you miss the fairway you'd better hit a provisional ball because it's quiet easy not to find the ball when you look for it.

Last year K.J. Choi won the tournament with 26 under par. While in 2003 shooting three under after the first two days meant you missed the cut. This year the same score will probably mean you are within the top 25.

It's unbelievable how tough this sport can be. Ian Woosnam was one under after the 17th, which is a great score for the course this year, and he found the water in his second shot at the 18th.

He dropped the ball twice before placing it in the rough. Due to the slope, the ball did not remain still. When he was going to hit his shot the ball moved and rolled into the water again.

In this case the ball was near the edge of the lake and Woosnam thought that he was going to be able to hit it out from the water. He hit it once and the ball did not go out, he hit it twice and the ball was still there. Out of sheer frustration, he picked up the ball, put it in his pocket and went away. Obviously he did not play on Friday.

GarridoGetting ready for the Ryder Cup next week, it looks like the European players are in great shape. Last week Luke Donald won in Switzerland and Miguel-Angel Jimenez and Sergio Garcia finished second and third.

This week in Germany, Padraig Harrington is leading after the first round - as I write.

I have great memories from the 1997 Ryder Cup, especially because it was played in Spain, my home country, with Seve Ballesteros as captain and in such a great course as Valderrama.

I was only 25 years old and it was a great moment in my golf career. When I played the afternoon foursome it was really impressive. I could feel the pressure when I was approaching the first tee, when you start realizing that you are a member of the European Ryder Cup team and you are defending your continent in such a great event.

I have to recognize that the fans and supporters - especially when you play in your home country - helped us to reach victory.

It was really exciting to walk to the clubhouse after finishing your match and see all the people around you, shouting your name. You could feel they were there supporting you from the first tee until the 18th.

Phil MickelsonThe most exciting moment I remember was playing a four ball with Jose-Maria Olazabal against Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman.

Europe was leading 7.5-3.5 and our match was psychologically very important. Victory would have enabled us to establish a significant gap in the score.

We were all square playing the 17th, after Olazabal birdied the 16th. In the signature hole of Valderrama, Txema went into the water after his second shot; Mickelson was two and a half meters away from the pin, with a good eagle chance.

My second shot ended up in one of the bunkers at the end of the green. You could imagine the pressure I felt at that moment; I had a shot completely downhill with a very fast green and the water right after the pin.

But I had no choice. I had to go for the birdie and I hit a fantastic bunker shot, leaving the ball three meters away from the hole and holing the birdie putt.

Mickelson missed his putt and we halved the hole and the match.

 
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