NORTON, Mass. (AP) — The most volatile movement in the FedEx Cup is Vijay Singh running away from the field.
Singh finished a tournament record 22-under-par to win the Deutsche Bank Championship by five strokes on Monday, a second straight victory that gives him a commanding lead in the tour’s playoff system. With a 12,225-point advantage over second-place Sergio Garcia in the race for the $10 million first prize, Singh is assured of the lead heading into the Tour Championship even if he finishes last this weekend in St. Louis.
And he could clinch it with a win.
“I don’t know how to play safe,” Singh said after closing with an 8-under 63 to claim his 34th career victory. “I’m going to go out there and play the best I can play. I’m going to have a game plan and I’m going to stick to it. I’m going to go out there and try to win.”
Singh made a 35-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole to stretch his lead to three shots, then held the putter aloft after sinking a 60-foot birdie putt on the next hole. He added another 35-foot putt on the 17th to drop to 7-under, then sealed the victory with a tap-in on No. 18.
After going more than a year without a PGA Tour victory, Singh now has won three of his last five and move to No. 3 in the world ranking Monday.
“I’m glad I got to watch it,” said Garcia, who was paired with Singh in the final round. “It’s like when Tiger is playing well. You want to beat him, but you’ve got to give it up to him. It’s awesome to watch. You’re watching history, and to have the chance of playing and battling it out with these kind of guys, you know, it’s great.”
A year after the inaugural FedEx Cup turned into an inauguration of Tiger Woods, golf’s brain trust fiddled with the point system to make it more volatile and allow more players to move up and down in the standings. It worked, to a degree: 10 golfers improved enough to break the top 70 and advance to the third round this year, compared to three last year.
But there’s little tour officials can do if one player keeps winning, as Woods did last year (finishing tied for second and winning twice), or Singh has this year. The big Fijian has 120,500 points, and even if he finishes last in the next two events someone else might have to win twice to pass him.
“You’ve got to love that volatility,” Jim Furyk said sarcastically. “It worked out great.”
It was the final tournament before U.S. captain Paul Azinger makes four picks to fill out his Ryder Cup team, and it won’t be easy.
The top American was Tim Herron, who shot 65 and tied for fifth with Garcia at 13-under 271 – the first top 10 finish for Herron all year. Chad Campbell made a late push with a 69-66 weekend in the toughest conditions of the tournament to tie for seventh with Justin Leonard (67) and Furyk (72), who already have qualified.
Azinger will announce his picks Tuesday morning in New York.
Singh was three strokes behind 54-hole leader Mike Weir (71) heading into the final round before blistering the par-71, 7,207-yard TPC Boston course to break by two shots the tournament record set by Adam Scott in 2003 and win for the third time in five weeks. Singh’s $1.26 million first prize was enough to finally replace Woods atop the money list at over $6.4 million; Woods has not played since season-ending surgery after the U.S. Open.
After years of struggling with his putter, Singh had an epiphany while battling a short putt last month in Akron.
“I willed that ball to go in. I absolutely put all my energy into making that putt, and that’s not the way to putt,” he said. “You’ve got to just stand over a putt and feel good about it and stroke it, and I just did not feel that. It was one of the worst feelings over a putt. That’s when I decided you’ve got to have an attitude change.
“Standing over putts this week is just night and day different. I feel just great.”
A psychologist helped him change his attitude. “But it has to come from inside me, and that was the biggest thing,” he said.
“I know it boils down to a great attitude change, a change in my head. My unconscious mind had a lot of stored-up bad thoughts in there, and that was the key, to get rid of all that.”
Singh took the lead when Weir made double bogey on the ninth. Singh made an 8-foot birdie on the 11th to build his lead to two. The 35-footer on the 13th made it three-strokes, but then Singh pulled his 9-iron approach to the 14th, leaving him 60 feet away.
“I got on the green and just kept talking to my caddie, ‘I’m the best putter in the world,’ and he said, ‘You’re damn right you are, now go ahead and knock it in,’ and I made it,” Singh said. “That’s just a good attitude. Instead of standing there and hoping you’re going to get up-and-down in two, I was trying to make those putts.”