Thursday, September 04, 2008

Singh: Not bad for an old guy

Recently, NBC commentator Johnny Miller said Vijay Singh is playing the best golf any 40-something has played since Ben Hogan was hitting soft fades in his heyday.

He's probably right.

Singh has been on a remarkable roll, winning three of his last four starts, including the first two FedEx Cup playoff events to sap the drama out of the season-ending money grab.

In the process, Singh has reminded us of what an exceptional player he is, not just now but over the span of his career. He's not in the best of the best class -- that's Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and a few others -- but Singh is just outside it.

And imagine if he could putt.

Singh is, at times, a terrific putter. You don't win 34 PGA Tour events including three majors by slapping it around on the greens. It's no great revelation, however, to point to Singh's perpetual love-hate relationship with his putter as his most glaring deficiency.

His reputation has been built on his legendary practice regimen and his devotion to the gym, where he spends more time than some basketball coaches. Sheer work and will account for a sizeable portion of Singh's success but he also possesses rare talent.

It has been tough for the public to warm up to Singh over the years, in part because he's been so guarded with the media. There's obviously a funny, playful side to Singh -- there are too many stories and compliments to dispute it -- but it's been hard for the world to see.

I don't think Singh cares much about how popular he is, though he's earned enormous respect. In the process, Singh seems to have softened and why not?

At 45, he's still close to the prime of his career.

And he keeps reminding us of it every week.


Nate said...

The part of Singh's game that is underestimated is his thinking. He has the skills and work ethic, and he maximizes those by hitting shots to his strength. The shaping of his drives and club selection throughout the last two victories are examples of that. There is another highly skilled golfer playing right now who would do well to take a lesson from Singh.