December 20, 2008

Vijay Biridies 18 To Take Tiger Tourney

Capping off one of the winningest years of his career, FedEx champion Vijay Singh came from two back at the start of the day to win Tiger's Chevron World Challenge

The win was worth $1.35 million and pushed Vijay's take for the year over $18 million.

The win was worth $1.35 million and pushed Vijay's take for the year over $18 million.

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- Three months after winning the FedEx Cup, Vijay Singh padded his most lucrative year in golf Sunday by making a 10-foot birdie on the final hole for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot victory in the Chevron World Challenge.

Age has never slowed the 45-year-old Singh, and rust doesn't appear to be much of an issue, either.

Singh has not competed in stroke play since Sept. 28 at the Tour Championship, where he wrapped up the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize. Three months later, he ran off three straight birdies early on the back nine at Sherwood Country Club, then holed a 10-footer on the final hole to beat Steve Stricker (68) by one stroke.

Singh won $1.35 million, pushing his earnings for the year over $18 million. That includes the $10 million bonus from the FedEx Cup, and the $6.6 million on the PGA Tour to win the money title for the third time in six years.

"Very unexpected," said Singh, who finished at 11-under 277 and won Tiger Woods' charity event for the first time. "I was just hanging in there. I figured if I shot 67 or 68, I would be right there with a chance."

Anthony Kim, the 54-hole leader, and Jim Furyk did their own charity work on a splendid afternoon of sunshine.

Kim was one shot out of the lead until making consecutive double bogeys, driving into the bushes on the 14th and hitting his 7-iron short and into the water on the par-3 15th. He birdied the next two holes, but by then it was over. Kim closed with a 73 and tied for third with Hunter Mahan, who shot 68.

Furyk, playing for the first time since the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda on Oct. 15, built a two-shot lead on the front nine until a pair of three-putt bogeys. He was tied with Singh after a 6-foot birdie on the 13th, and still only one shot behind from the middle of the fairway on the par-5 16th when it all came undone.

He twice went into the rough and made bogey on the 16th, missing the par-3 17th green to drop another shot and with the tournament already decided, found the water on the 18th hole for the second straight day to make double bogey. Furyk wound up dropping five shots over the final five holes for a 74 and tied for fifth with Camilo Villegas (73).

Ben Curtis was the only other player in the 16-man field to finish under par.

Singh's fortunes began turning on the par-4 sixth hole, where he had made bogey each of the first three rounds. He answered with a birdie in the final round, and when Furyk three-putted from long range in group behind, the Fijian was back in the game.

"That got me all fired up," Singh said. "I played solidly. And the putter started working when it got inside 8 to 10 feet."

That was the range for his three straight birdies that put him in the lead, the biggest birdie of all on the 18th hole.

He made small talk with Woods as they waited for the final group to finish, and Singh jokingly told Woods at the trophy presentation, "Don't come back too soon. Take another year off."

Even with Woods at full strength, Singh has been up for the challenge. The big Fijian has won 23 times since turning 40, and his 34 career victories on the PGA Tour are the most by a foreign-born player.

The Chevron World Challenge doesn't count, but it felt like a victory considering the elite gathering. And it came at a good time for Singh, who starts the 2009 season in three weeks at Kapalua.