|J Snyder III||+|
Vijay's new grip could win it
Last updated: 16th October 2012
Just when it looked as if Vijay Singh was resigned to looking for his next win in the senior ranks, the big Fijian has come good on the PGA Tour.
And so much so that the 49-year-old former World No 1, whose 34 world-wide wins include three majors, is being viewed as one of the favourites to win the McGladrey Classic, this week's third and penultimate tournament in the PGA Tour's Fall Series.
And this especially so as it is being played on the Seaside Course at Sea Island in Georgia where the greens have been rated as some of the trickiest on Tour and are expected to run around 12 on the stimpmeter.
As things are right now, this fact could well play right into Singh's currently most capable hands.
For, from being a straggler with his putter during the past few years, the hard-working Singh is looking much more like the winner he used to be since changing his putting grip.
It's made the world of a difference to his putting confidence and it was no coincidence that his 1,596 putts per hole led the field at last week's Frys.com Open where he finished fourth.
Yes, his putting is looking that good and winning on the Seaside Course is going to be all about putting this week - if the normally accurate forecasts of Golfweather.com are going to be proved correct.
Wind and inclement weather can often be a key factor at seaside courses, but Golfweather.com is saying there'll be no rain and that the wind will mostly be light, getting up to not much more than 5 and 6 mph on Thursday and Saturday and to 10mph in the late afternoon on Friday and Sunday when the front runners will be coming down the closing stretch.
Taking the wind out of the equation on this 84-year-old, 7,005-yard, Par 70 course that is fair and not especially difficult until you get up on and around the greens makes it a different proposition altogether
Sea Island's greens ranked among the top five most difficult of all the Par 70 courses in play on the Tour last year and are not expected to be any easier this week, especially if there is no rain, so the man who handles them best is, all other things being equal, the one most likely to be hoisting high the winner's trophy on Sunday.
Singh, of course, is not the only men in the field who needs to be reckoned with.
The threat posed by Australian young gun Jason Day, US veteran Jim Furyk and fellow in-form major winner Zach Johnson shouldn't be overlooked.
And it might also be a good idea to keep an eye on the likes of previous tour winners like Jeff Overton, Charles Howell III and this year's US Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III, who, as this week's home-town favourite, knows the Seaside layout like the back of his hand.
Day has been something on an invisible man this year, but a lone 4th place in Los Vegas two weeks ago where he led the field in birdies (18) gave warning that he is beginning to rediscover the talent that a year or so ago made him Australia's highest ranked golfer and one of his country's best prospects for a major.
Johnson, a former Masters champion, hasn't played the circuit since his 15th-place tie at the Tour Championship at Eastlake more than a month ago, but he's having a good year and with two of his 23 wins coming this season at the Crown Plaza Invitational and the John Deere Classic, he looks to be another of the strongest title contender this week.
With some of the game's higher-profile golfers in trouble on the edge or outside of the bubble that separate the 125 players who will earn automatic exemptions into next year's PGA Tour and those who will lose their Tour cards. its very possible that desperation could produce some drama this week.
It might well push to heroic heights men like Rod Pampling and Billy Mayfair who are on the very edge inside the bubble at 124 and 125 respectively and big-hitting Gary Woodland (129), Justin Leonard (138), Camilo Villegas (152) and Robert Karlsson (161), who are all just outside of it.
Woodland jumped 14 places last week and right now looks capable of bursting back into the bubble, but with only next week's final Fall Series tournament to come, other stragglers like former Open champion Leonard, Villegas and Karlsson are going to have to start making their moves - and fast - if they are going to avoid having to go back to the Tour's dreaded Q-School.
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