Singh out to avenge Tour loss


Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 10:45 p.m.
ATLANTA - Vijay Singh wasn't sure his 5-wood could reach the green on the par-3 18th hole at East Lake Golf Club. His goal was to hit it straight, hit it hard and hope.
"It went dead straight, hard and stuck," Singh said Thursday.
The ball finished 8 inches from the cup for a rare birdie on the 232-yard closing hole, a 5-under 65 and a share of the lead with Steve Lowery in the Tour Championship.
He could have used that kind of result four years ago.
When the Tour Championship first came to East Lake in 1998, the tournament was his to win. Instead, Singh's 3-iron on the final hole bounced over the brick-hard green and into the rough, leading to a bogey. He lost to Hal Sutton on the first playoff hole.
Even after one round in cold and swirling winds, Singh already was looking ahead to redemption in the Tour Championship - and at East Lake.
"It owed me one in 1998," Singh said. "It took me a while to get over that one, especially the shot I hit on 18. I would like to win this event, and on this golf course, because I've had two good finishes. We'll see on Sunday what happens."
Thursday was entertaining enough. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and on the PGA Tour money, played together for the first time this year, and what was believed to be the first time since the final round of the 2001 Masters, when Woods won his fourth straight major.
Neither of their memories were very good, although Woods won't forget the par-3 sixth hole any time soon. The wind laid down after he hit a soft 7-iron, and his ball bounded over the green and into the water for a double bogey.
"I got fooled," Woods said. That ended his streak of 328 holes with nothing worse than a bogey, dating to the first hole of the third round in the Buick Open, which he went on to win.
The rest of the day didn't get much better. His 3-iron into the 18th came up 80 feet short, and he missed a 6-footer for par. That gave him a 71, the first time in 21 rounds he failed to shoot par or better, dating to his 81 in the third round of the British Open.
Mickelson lost his patience only once, and that was before he even hit his first shot.
The starter was reading off Woods' five victories this year - Bay Hill, Masters, U.S. Open, Buick Open, American Express Championship - when Mickelson playfully cut her off.
Mickelson had four birdies and four bogeys in an even-par 70.
  • PGA SOUTHERN FARM BUREAU CLASSIC: Tommy Tolles had one of those rare rounds when everything seemed to go his way.
    He made a 40-foot chip for par, holed out twice from a bunker and made a 25-foot birdie from the fringe in a 6-under 66 that left him one stroke behind first-round leader Brad Elder at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
    Tolles was one of eight players tied for second, along with defending champion Cameron Beckman and rookie Jonathan Byrd, who won his first PGA tournament last week.
  • WORLD LADIES MATCH PLAY: Annika Sorenstam and Se Ri Pak tumbled out of the World Ladies Match Play Championship on Thursday, losing first-round matches to lightly regarded Japanese opponents.
    Sorenstam, the 2001 champion who has nine LPGA Tour victories this year, lost 2 and 1 to Chieko Amanuma, ranked last among the 16 Japan LPGA Tour players in the 32-woman field.
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