Fijian lives up to No. 1 billing with Canadian Open win

OAKVILLE (Ontario): Now that he is No. 1 in the world, Vijay Singh figures the best way to stay there is to continue his amazing golf and to play better than everyone in the field that week. 

That’s what happened in the Canadian Open – and it made Vijay the slightest bit sad. 

He would have preferred the last guy standing between him and the trophy to have been anyone but Mike Weir. 

VICTORIOUS VIJAY: Fijian Vijay Singh holds up his trophy following his playoffwin in the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville,Ontario on Sunday. Thenew world No. 1 beat Canada’s Mike Weir in a three-hole playoff to win thetournament. – REUTERSpic

Vijay spoiled what was shaping up as a raucous celebration on Sunday, overcoming a two-shot deficit with three holes to play and beating Weir on the third hole of a playoff, robbing Canada of their first national champion in 50 years – on the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Open, no less. 

“I really do feel for Mike,” Vijay said after closing with a birdie on the final hole for a two-under 69 that forced a playoff when Weir missed a 10-footer for birdie in the final group. “That was the one person I didn’t want to beat. He wanted to win this tournament so bad, but that’s the way it goes. 

“Somebody has to win.” 

Lately, that person inevitably is Vijay. 

Replacing Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking last week might have seemed like a crowning achievement, but now the 41-year-old Fijian is primed to do so much more. 

He won for the seventh time this year, joining Woods (twice), Jack Nicklaus (twice), Tom Watson and Johnny Miller as the only players to have won that often in a single season since 1970.  

Better yet, Vijay earned US$810,000 to push his season earnings to a few dollars short of US$8.7mil – and is closing in on Woods’ record of US$9.1mil set in 2000. 

Woods won nine times that year. Don’t think Vijay isn’t aware of that. 

“I’ve still got five events in the US – two of them no-cut events,” he said, breaking into laughter. “I’m playing well. I’m not going to back off. I’m going to try to come out and win a few more events by the end of the year. If I do it, that’s another story. 

“To win one PGA Tour event is very difficult to do but what I have done is just incredible. It’s a ride that I hope can go on forever but I know it will come to an end one day.” 

The story on Sunday at Glen Abbey was Weir. 

And ultimately, this will be remembered as one he let slip away. Three times Weir had a putt to win the tournament – a 10-foot birdie on the 72nd hole, a 25-foot eagle at No. 18 on the first playoff hole, and a 5-foot par putt at No. 17 on the second extra hole. He missed them all. “For whatever reason, I could not find a comfort level on the greens,” Weir said. 

He ran out of chances on No. 18 for the third playoff hole, pulling his tee shot into the rough, laying up and hitting a wedge into the water. Vijay hit another monster drive, and only had to three-putt from the fringe to collect his 22nd career PGA Tour victory, one behind Phil Mickelson. 

“It’s unbelievable,” Vijay said. 

Not since Pat Fletcher in 1954 had a Canadian lifted the title and Weir admitted the expectations of the country weighed heavily on his shoulders. 

Did he feel the weight of a nation on his shoulders? 

“Every shot,” Weir said. – Agencies  

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