ATLANTA (AP) — Vijay Singh found it hard to get fired up for his last two tournaments.
Surely that $10 million will make him feel better.
Singh locked up the FedEx Cup and its huge bonus Sunday simply by finishing four rounds at the Tour Championship. He certainly didn’t win it with his play at East Lake, closing with an even-par 70 and a 9-over 289 total that left him in a tie for 22nd place in the 30-player field. He was 16 strokes behind winner Camilo Villegas, who beat Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
But Singh’s lack of passion was understandable. The Fijian won the PGA Tour’s first two playoff events, building such a large lead that no one could catch him in the season finale unless the 45-year-old withdrew or was disqualified.
“I was reminded a thousand times before I started this week: Make sure you finish 72 holes, sign your card, (have) enough clubs and, gosh, everything else,” Singh said. “I’m glad it’s over. I tried to make it very simple on my card today, no mistakes, and make all 18 pars.”
After virtually locking up the cup with a five-stroke win at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Singh broke par only once in his final eight rounds of the regular season.
It didn’t matter. He still earned $9 million in cash, with another $1 million is deferred compensation.
“You make a bogey, you get congratulated. You make a double, you get congratulated,” Singh said, breaking into a smile. “It didn’t really matter what I made. It took away the focus of playing this tournament. I tried really hard. When I left to come here to play, I said, ‘I’m going to keep focus.’ But that’s as far as I got.”
It was the second year of the FedEx Cup, and the second straight year the finale lacked drama. Tiger Woods skipped the opening playoff event in 2007 and still won by such a big margin he could have skipped the Tour Championship.
Woods wasn’t around this time. He underwent knee surgery after his win at the U.S. Open in June, forcing him to sit out the rest of the season.
Singh stepped up after a sluggish start, Overcoming various aches and pains, not to mention changes in his swing, he finished with three wins this year – all since August.
Assessing his season, the three-time major winner called it “up there among one of the best.”
“I was totally out of it for a long, long time,” Singh said. “It’s self-satisfying to know I never gave up, kept at it – hurt, not hurt, pain, if didn’t matter. I was out there practicing and believing in myself and doing it. At the end of the day, I came out up front.”
He’s not sure what he’ll do with all that money.
“I’ll find a million ways to spend it,” Singh said. “There’s a lot out there to do.”
LEFTY’S LAMMENT: Phil Mickelson could have claimed a spot in Sunday’s playoff by making a birdie at the 72nd hole, but his 20-foot putt stayed above the hole.
The miss probably cost him the Vardon Trophy, as well.
The award for the lowest adjusted scoring average on the PGA Tour was likely locked up by Sergio Garcia, who dropped his average from 69.53 to 69.40 by claiming a spot in the playoff. Even though he lost to Camilo Villegas on the first extra hole, the Spaniard is projected to beat out Mickelson’s average, which improved from 69.52 to 69.42.
Most of the top players shut it down in the States after the Tour Championship, so it’s unlikely anyone else will bump off Garcia before the Vardon Trophy is handed out.
“There were some ups and downs,” Mickelson said. “The plus side for me was that I played more consistent this year than I have in the past. But I didn’t putt like I did this week. I putted great this week, and I need to do that more, because it’s a lot of fun seeing those putts go in.”
GARCIA COLLAPSE: This wasn’t the first time Sergio Garcia blew a 54-hole lead.
His drought dates to the 2005 Wachovia Championship, when he had a six-shot lead going into the last round and shot 72, losing in a three-way playoff to Vijay Singh. That tied the PGA Tour record for the biggest final-round collapse, matching Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters.
A year later, Garcia had a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker going into the final round of the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie, only to make bogey on the last hole and shoot 73, losing in a playoff to Padraig Harrington.
Garcia was three shots clear of Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim going into the final round of the Tour Championship, but his lead was gone after seven holes, and he got back only briefly after a par on the 16th.
The common thread of those collapses? He lost all of them in a playoff, this one to Camilo Villegas.
“I let everybody come back into the game,” Garcia said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Camilo. I think he played an awesome round. To shoot 66 today was great. But I still felt like I let it go a little bit.”