ON THE MARK ARCHIVE: Tips from Mark Immelman
By Mark Immelman, Special to PGATOUR.COM
In week three of the FedExCup Playoffs, the top 70 players congregated at Crooked Stick Golf Club for the BMW Championship.
Play was frenetic from the first hole on Thursday morning. Birdies were the order of the day and the star-studded leaderboard sported a blend of current Hall-of-Famers and a few players who may well earn nomination to the hallowed halls in St. Augustine later in their careers.
One of those Hall-of-Famers, a three-time major champion and past world No. 1 Vijay Singh, topped proceedings. At 49 years young the affable Fijian has not only been, and indeed still is, a great champion, he has always been an effervescent source of advice and counsel to many a young professional. You more than likely will not be able to bend Singh’s ear but you can still learn a thing or two about top-flight golf from watching him and his performance in Indianapolis.
Practice, practice, practice (but with a purpose): I firmly believe that no great endeavor or achievement comes without a great and concerted sacrifice. Singh is the embodiment of that belief. He practices as hard as, and if not harder than, anyone in the world’s game. The beauty about Singh’s practice though is that he never ever hits a practice shot (or putt) without specifically addressing a certain issue in his technique.
Watch Singh on the range and you will always see him making very deliberate practice swings as he attempts to groove whatever swing fundamental he is working on. Further, you will always see him practicing with alignment aids and shafts or umbrellas set in position as aids. (These serve as guides and force him to make the correct body motion and swing shape.) In other words, Singh never just gets out there and beats balls – his work and practice is always directed and focused and the way I see it, if a Hall-of-Fame talent sees the need to do it that way, there is no reason whatsoever that all other golfers should not do so too.
Don’t be afraid to experiment: Perennially a marvelous ball-striker, Singh has battled a balky putter throughout his career and his travails have been well-documented. Over the recent stretch of events, and this week especially, Singh has begun to find some form with the flat-stick though. (Through two rounds Singh took only 47 putts and was second in the field in Strokes Gained-Putting.) In my opinion, aside from his phenomenal work ethic, Singh’s ability to bounce back from putting slumps is his open-mind and the fact that he is prepared to challenge tradition and try anything (within reason) to find success.
Over his career, Singh has used a myriad of short putters, long putters, grip variations and putter styles in an effort to make more putts. So just like Singh has, do not be afraid or resistant to experimentation. That secret that you are looking for may be right around the corner if you are just prepared to look with a different perspective. So keep an open mind and practice with a purpose. Singh does so and it has proved beneficial over a long and healthy career.
Mark Immelman, the brother of PGA TOUR professional Trevor Immelman, is a well-respected golf instructor and head coach of the Columbus State University (Ga.) golf team. For more information about Mark and his instruction, visit his web site, markimmelman.com or follow him on Twitter @mark_immelman or “Like” Mark Immelman Golf Instruction on Facebook. He also has a golf instruction e-book called “Consistently Straight Shots – The Simple Solution” available on iTunes/iBooks.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- It was a good news, bad news kind of day for Vijay Singh. Or, as he put it, a "mixed plate."
He made seven birdies, but he also had four bogeys, including three in his last five holes. Even so, Singh starts the final round of the BMW Championship tied for the lead at 16 under with Phil Mickelson, so he couldn't be too disappointed.
"I'm striking the ball well and I'm putting well, which kept me going," Singh said. "A round like this, I'm still in there and gives me a chance tomorrow."
Singh, who turns 50 in February, will be looking to win for the 35th time in his World Golf Hall of Fame career -- and the first time in four years. He also happened to win the FedExCup that season, capturing the first two Playoffs events in 2008.
The Fijian has had a total of 13 top-10s since his last win, including two in his last five starts. Last month at the PGA, he even had his eyes set on adding a fourth major to his haul when he took a share of the lead into the weekend at Kiawah Island but ended up tied for 36th after rounds of 74-77.
"I've got to be careful not to force myself," Singh said. "There's a lot of chances out there, and if I don't win tomorrow, I'll still have a lot of chances until the end of the year and next year, as well. ... I'm going to go out there and play my game and see what happens."
Singh, who is one of 12 players to break 70 in the first three rounds, is encouraged by the way he responded on Saturday. He never relinquished the lead and when the disappointing bogeys started coming, he answered the first two with birdies to keep pace with Mickelson.
"Today's round could have got away from me, but I really dug deep and really focused hard on that," Singh said. "We'll see what I can do. I'm going to be aggressive, and I have a chance to win the tournament."
Singh also has the opportunity to move on to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake, where Singh has 12 top-10s. including one win, in 16 appearances. He entered the week ranked 49th in the FedExCup and needs to finish fourth or better to move on.
His sights are clearly set higher, though.
"I'm really not worried about it," Singh said. "I'm worried about trying to go out there and finish this tournament."
CARMEL, Ind. -- The leaderboard at the BMW Championship couldn't be more high-powered.
Not only does it feature two of the current top three players in both the FedExCup and the world -- Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who rank Nos. 1 and 3, respectively in both categories -- there are a total of four who have topped the Official World Golf Ranking during their careers.
Vijay Singh, who leads by one shot, was ranked No. 1 for 32 weeks while Lee Westwood, who is two strokes behind, held down the same spot for 22. Woods, of course, is the all-time record-holder at 623 weeks while McIlroy is in his fourth stint at No. 1 in the world for a total of 11 weeks.
Of the four, only Westwood has yet to rank No. 1 in the FedExCup. Woods and Singh both have won the $10 million and Tiffany trophy with the American capturing the FedExCup in 2007 and '09 and the big man from Fiji earning it in 2008.
McIlroy is in his second stint as the FedExCup No. 1 right now, returning to the top when he won last week's Deutsche Bank Championship. The victory was his third of the season, tying Woods in that category, although McIroy owns the only major between the two after winning the PGA Championship by eight strokes.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. – Two weeks ago at The Barclays, Vijay Singh got off to a hot start in the first two rounds but faded on the weekend. He’s off to a hot start again this week at the BMW Championship. This time, he’s hoping to avoid another slide down the leaderboard.
“I’ve 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.”
At The Barclays, Singh opened with rounds of 68-67 and went into the weekend tied for third, just one stroke off the lead. But he shot 76-76 to finish tied for 46th.
Two weeks before that, Singh shot 71-69 in the first two rounds of the PGA Championship and had a share of the lead with Tiger Woods and Carl Pettersson. But he shot 74-77 on the weekend to finish tied for 36th.
Last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, it was a bit of a reverse for Singh. He was tied for 53rd after two rounds but shot 68-69 in the final two days to finish tied for 26th.
The 49-year-old Singh isn’t sure why he’s been unable to string together four good rounds.
“Just guess I want it so bad that I get in my own way,” he said. “So I just have to get out of my own way and just play.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
A year ago, Justin Rose chipped in for birdie on the penultimate hole of the BMW Championship and held off John Senden by two shots to win the BMW Championship. The victory moved Rose from 34th to third in the FedExCup standings and punched his ticket to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Those outside the top 30 in the standings entering this week are hoping for a similar fate. Six players moved outside the bubble to inside it in the first week of the FedExCup Playoffs, and nine turned the trick last week.
Who, if anyone, will move from outside the top 30 and advance to East Lake in two weeks? Here’s a closer look at five players who I think could bust this week’s bubble. Fill out the form below and let us know which players from outside the top 30 you think will advance.
Bud Cauley (No. 33): For the second straight year, Cauley is playing his best golf when the pressure has been on. Last season, Cauley finished third at the Frys.com Open and 15th at the McGladrey Classic to lock up a card and avoid q-school. This year, Cauley has three finishes in the top 4 in his last six starts. One of those was a tie for 10th at The Barclays. Only four rookies have reached the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola since the inception of the FedExCup in 2007, but if Cauley can putt the way he did at Bethpage, I think he’ll advance. Click here for FedExCup Tracker
Seung-Yul Noh (No. 38): In Noh’s last 10 events, he’s finished outside the top 30 just twice (and one of those was a 31st-place finish). He tied for 13th last week in Boston, 21st at the PGA Championship and a season-best fourth at the AT&T National in July. Noh is also long off the tee, averaging just over 300 yards, and ranks in the top 25 in greens in regulation. He’s also pretty good with the flat stick (60th in strokes gained-putting). I think Noh not only advances, I think he flirts with the top of the leaderboard at Crooked Stick.
William McGirt (No. 39): By his own admission, McGirt has been watching the FedExCup standings since the week after the U.S. Open. He responded, too, finishing 13th at the Travelers Championship before adding a fifth-place finish in Mississippi and a runner-up in Canada. In his first two Playoffs events, McGirt finished 10th and 26th, respectively. The latter moved him up seven spots, so he’ll probably need something slightly better to make it to East Lake. But if McGirt can roll it the way he has each of the last two weeks, he’ll have a good chance.
Jeff Overton (No. 40): The Indiana native could either collapse under the pressure of trying to perform in front of a hometown audience, or thrive in it. I’m going with the latter, especially with Crooked Stick being a big ballpark and Overton being a big hitter. He seemed to have found something last week in Boston, where he tied for seventh.
Vijay Singh (No. 49): Given his position, Singh is going to need a very good week to climb into the top 30. But the 49-year-old has also done a nice job of managing his schedule with a couple of weeks off in what’s been a very busy stretch of golf. Singh contended at the PGA Championship before fading on the weekend, and he’s done the same for the most part in each of his last two starts -- which is certainly a concern. But the big Fijian played his way to East Lake last year with a tie for third at The Barclays after failing to reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola each of the previous two years, and I could see him doing it again this week at Crooked Stick.
FARMINGDALE N.Y. -- So what if Vijay Singh turns 50 in six months. So what if he hasn't won a PGA TOUR event in exactly four years next week.
Singh continues to guzzle from golf's Fountain of Youth -- and his ageless ability showed again on Friday at The Barclays when he vaulted up the leaderboard with a 67 that moved him to 7 under at the midway point of the first FedExCup Playoffs event.
Singh is trying to win The Barclays this week for the third time on as many courses. A victory come Sunday would be Singh's 23rd since hitting the big 4-0, six more than the legendary Sam Snead, who was 52 when he won his 83rd TOUR start.
The age thing, though, isn't of concern to Singh. Winning, on the other hand, is.
His best chance since that 2008 victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship, his second straight in the Playoffs that year on the way to winning the FedExCup and its $10 million bonus, probably came at the Northern Trust Open last year where he finished two strokes behind Aaron Baddeley. He had three other top-four finishes in 2012 and a total of 13 top-10s since his last win.
Two of those came in his last three starts and in the other, Singh took a share of the lead into the weekend at the PGA only to shoot 74-77. He talked that week at Kiawah Island about learning to believe in himself again, and after Friday's 67 there appeared to be more of the same confidence.
"I think I'm playing as good as I did any part of my career,"
Singh said. "I'm hitting the ball as long. I'm hitting the ball
straighter. I feel a lot of confidence in me. It's just I need to
get some kind of momentum going to keep me going. I thought I had
it at the PGA, but I kind of let it slip there on Sunday.
"But it's all about how you're hitting it, and right now I'm striking the ball good. My distance is back, and I'm literally pain free, which makes a whole lot of difference."
Singh, who has had knee surgery and experimental treatments on his back over the last four years, certainly looked the picture of health on Friday.
He got things headed in the right direction with a 9-footer for
birdie at the first hole, two-putted the par-5 seventh from 46 feet
and drained a 20-footer at the ninth to turn in 33. He then had to
wait until the 18th for his final birdie, making an 11-footer there
to pull even with the overnight leader.
"I don't know what the mindset was after yesterday when I got to the clubhouse and seen all the low scoring," Singh said. "It kind of threw everybody off. But yesterday afternoon the conditions got a lot tougher, and this morning, too, it was firmer than, I guess, yesterday morning. I think they shut the waters off. It's playing harder. The wind is swirling around. I'm happy to have finished what I did."
Singh says he spends more time on the putting green than on the range in practice sessions that were nothing short of legendary on TOUR. When he's not playing, he normally practices about four hours, which includes about 90 minutes in the gym every day "if I'm not hurting" or every other day if he is.
“I'm not slowing down,” he said firmly, and the results speak for themselves.
FARMINGDALE N.Y. -- Vijay Singh, who won the FedExCup in 2008, has made a big move up the leaderboard.
Also gaining ground is Bob Estes, who started on the back nine and had three birdies in his first five holes. He's joined the group at 5 under.
Martin Laird has just made the turn in 34 and is among a big group at 3 under along with PGA TOUR rookie John Huh, who has made two birdies in his first seven holes, and Tom Gillis who just made consecutive birdies at Nos. 6 and 7.
Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler are also at 3 under but headed in the wrong direction. Walker bogeyed his first two holes and has reeled off nine pars since while Fowler, who is playing in the group behind, is 1 over for the day.
Ian Poulter, who is hoping to be one of Jose Maria Olazabal's two Ryder Cup picks on Monday morning, had moved to 4 under early in his round. But back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 2 and 3, which were his 11th and 12th of the round, have dropped him back to 2 under.
Granted, it’s early. But right now it’s looking like you’ll need to finish two rounds at even par or better to play the weekend.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the RBC Canadian Open below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Ernie Els vs. Vijay Singh||Two of the game's best over-40 players. Or best players, period.|
|Jim Furyk vs. Sean O'Hair||Furyk won here in 2006; O'Hair is defending champion|
|Matt Kuchar vs. Hunter Mahan||Mahan started the season on fire; lately, Kuchar's been hot|
|Brandt Snedeker vs. Scott Stallings||It's Vanderbilt (Nashville) vs. Tennessee Tech (Cookeville)|
|Robert Garrigus vs. Charlie Wi||FedExCup surprises in '12 -- both are on the top 30 bubble|
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- The last time Vijay Singh shot a 63, things worked out pretty well for him.
It was in 2008 in the final round the Deutsche Bank Championship, which he won.
His opening 63 Thursday here at The Greenbrier Classic put him in position to do so again (though he’s already been caught by Jonathan Byrd in the morning wave). The question is, can he turn it into a victory?
Eleven times Singh has opened with a 64 or better. He went on to win five of those events.
From 1995 to 2008, Singh had 155 top-10 finishes -- an average of 11.07 top-10 finishes per year. Since the start of the 2009 season, however, that number has dropped significantly for the 49-year-old, who has 11 total top 10s the last three-plus years (an average of 2.75 per year). Injuries and age haven’t helped any.
This is also the 22nd time that Singh has held or shared the first-round lead (and the first since the 2007 AT&T National). On five of those occasions, he’s gone on to win.
Only once this season, though, has Singh recorded so much as a top 10. But with a win on Sunday, he would become the eighth oldest winner in PGA TOUR history and the oldest since Fred Funk won the 2007 Mayakoba Classic at Riviera Maya.