Vijay Singh hopeful of a different outcome at BMW Championship

Vijay Singh hopeful of a different outcome at BMW Championship


CARMEL, Ind. (AP) – The names at the top of the leaderboard are easy to recognize for a playoff event that features the best in golf. Starting with Vijay Singh, who had a one-shot lead in the BMW Championship, four of the top six players have been No. 1 in the world.

The scores on a Pete Dye design are what look to be a little out of whack.

Dye, the golf course architect who takes delight in confounding the world's best players, was on the range Friday morning watching them warm up. There was simply no stopping them once they got on Crooked Stick, which is soft from rain, and has greens that stay smooth because of the 70-man field.

“You come to a Pete Dye golf course, and you don't expect to see 13-under par leading after two days,'' Tiger Woods said.

That is the score Singh produced over two solid days, including his 6-under 66 in the second round that gave him a one-shot lead over Woods (67), Rory McIlroy (68) and Ryan Moore (66). Two shots back were Indiana native Bo Van Pelt (69) and Lee Westwood, the other former No. 1 who had a 65.

The question going into the weekend was how much lower they could go.

Starting times were moved up to Friday morning to beat the storms, and the players barely made it before clouds gathered, thunder rumbled and more rain fell on the course. Times were moved to slightly later for Saturday to give the course time to clean up in case the storms were particularly strong.

The other question was could Singh hang on.

It used to be no problem for the 49-year-old Fijian, who rose to No. 1 in the world in 2004 when he won nine times and was the dominant figure in golf. He won the FedEx Cup in 2008 by capturing the only two playoff events and virtually clinching the $10 million bonus halfway through the playoffs.

That was his last win.

There have been nagging injuries, confidence issues and the occasional trouble with his putting. Singh appears to have taken baby steps with those giant strides in recent weeks, however, and the BMW Championship became the second time in his last four tournaments that he had at least a share of the 36-hole lead.

“I've got to keep it going,'' Singh said. “I've been playing well for two days for a while now, but I need four days of good playing. Sooner or later, I think four days is going to happen. And hopefully, it starts this week.''

Singh was tied with Woods and Carl Pettersson at the PGA Championship until a 74-77 weekend sent him plummeting to a tie for 36th. Two weeks ago, he was one shot behind going into the weekend at Bethpage Black until a 76-75 weekend dropped him into a tie for 46th. The big Fijian had a good weekend in Boston, but that only covered up a poor start.

As for what's keeping him from four solid days, Singh isn't sure.

“I have no idea,'' he said. “I guess I want it so bad that I get in my own way. So I just have to get out of my own way and just play. Last weekend I played better, but I didn't play well the first two days. Hopefully, I can go out there and just shoot two comfortable rounds this week.''

A comfortable round might not be enough.

These are supposed to be the FedEx Cup playoffs. The scores make it look like the old Bob Hope Classic, especially after a week in which McIlroy won on the TPC Boston at 20-under 264. Woods opened with a 65 and that still wasn't good enough for the lead. On the second hole Friday, he saw a leaderboard that showed him at 7-under par and in a tie for 11th place.

“Only played 20 holes,'' Woods said. “I knew I had to go get it.''

He got on track on a par 5, though his birdie was not how he imagined. He drove into the right rough, a nasty lie just short of the bunker. He chopped it down the fairway as far as he could manage and then hit a 7-iron from 207 yards into 5 feet for birdie.

Ultimately, he was happy to finish one shot behind. For the second straight day, Woods wasn't particularly sharp in any area of his game except for posting a score.

“I didn't have it with my swing,'' Woods said. “Just kind of fighting it around here. You look up at the scores, the guys are just running off. I just wanted to get to double digits (under par) today. I felt like that would have been a good accomplishment the way I was hitting the golf ball, and happy to get a couple of more.''

McIlroy's mistakes all seemed to cost him, whether it was a three-putt bogey or bad lies when he missed the green. He was helped by a brilliant approach on the par-5 ninth to just inside 5 feet for eagle.

“I put myself in a great position going into the weekend,'' McIlroy said. “The round wasn't quite as good as it was yesterday. I didn't hit the ball quite as well. But I still managed to get around in 4-under par. I'm very pleased about that. I just need to try and find a little more consistency. It wasn't that bad out there, but just a couple of missed tee shots and a couple of missed iron shots.''

McIlroy and Woods are both going for a PGA Tour-leading fourth win of the year.

Singh would gladly settle for his first.

Bill Haas had the best round Friday at 64, despite a bogey on the 17th hole. There were 32 rounds in the 60s, and only 10 players failed to shoot par or better. That included three U.S. Ryder Cup players – Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker, who had a 73 despite a hole-in-one with a 6-iron on the sixth hole.

Hunter Mahan, concerned about an “empty feeling'' after not being selected for the Ryder Cup, had a 73.

Haas is at No. 28, and helped himself immensely with a 64. Haas won the FedEx Cup last year, saving par out of the water during a playoff, but a strange piece of history is working against him. No FedEx Cup champion has ever made it back to East Lake for the Tour Championship the following year.

Much like Singh, however, Haas a lot of work left. Given the low scoring – and there's nothing to indicate that will change – the final two rounds of the BMW Championship would be wide open. Twenty players were within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Graeme McDowell, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.

“Let's be honest,'' McDowell said. “You've got to keep going low this weekend.''

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