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Comparing Woods to Singh: A subtle attempt to take luster off remarkable year?

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

It's a little curious how we are treating Vijay Singh's spectacular year.

Most of the stories coming out of newspapers, magazines and television properly hail Singh's season in which he finally overtook Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player in the world.

Yes, Singh has had a great year ... but then the comparisons against Woods' 2000 season inevitably start.

Now, maybe it's just for comparison's sake, to help put his performance in perspective. But you can't help but wonder if it's a small way to take a little luster off Singh's remarkable run.

If this had been a U.S. golfing native, say Phil Mickelson, would we be hammering the comparisons so hard?

I don't think so.

Is there a touch of jingoism here? Yes.

Woods' 2000 season is the modern landmark for professional golfers. He won nine times, including the final three majors. He set or tied 27 records.

Even Singh acknowledges the enormity of that achievement.

"Tiger won three majors in 2000," Singh told reporters. "You can't beat three majors. It's so much more difficult to win major events than normal tournaments."

This season, Singh won only the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by taking advantage of Justin Leonard's nosedive on the final day. Singh eventually won a three-hole playoff when he made his only birdie of the day.

Woods, on the other hand, strafed the field at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000, winning by an unheard-of 15 strokes. He won the British Open by eight. Of his non-major wins, Woods won the NEC Invitational by eight.

Woods had a great year in 1999, but 2000 was the year he was deified.

Singh's most dominant win this year was by three strokes at Pebble Beach.

Then there is the implied criticism of the quality of the fields in the tournaments Singh has won. Because Singh plays more tournaments than Woods, some of his wins will inevitably come against lesser fields.

Singh is a grinder. He plays every tournament he can, sidelined only by natural calamities, like hurricanes. He has one of the hardest work ethics on tour.

Singh won more money than Woods did in his landmark year, but - it is always pointed out - the purses are higher now than they were in 2000.

Woods had a lower adjusted scoring average in 2000 and had a better percentage of top-10 finishes.

All true. But, it is almost as if Woods' 2000 season is being held up to denigrate Singh's 2004 performance. There may never be another year like Woods had in 2000.

Will his 2000 year be held up to all future golfers who have years like Singh's? Is this now the standard to which all No. 1 players will be compared?

Are all Super Bowl champions held up to the Miami Dolphins' undefeated 1972 season? Are all heavyweight champions compared to Muhammad Ali?

Is it really fair to compare Woods in 2000 - a season as aberrant as it was spectacular - to Singh in 2004?

Singh is now in the elite of golf history. Only Singh, Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer and Woods have won eight tournaments in one year since 1960. Not a bad club to join.

Woods' story is a remarkable one, but so is Singh's. Here's a guy who was once a club pro in Borneo, for heaven's sake. He's battled as much, if not more, racial prejudice as Woods.

Singh isn't particularly well liked in the U.S. His ill-timed comments against Annika Sorenstam didn't exactly bring him a lot of admirers, at least publicly.

But if you compare his behavior and demeanor to Woods, who has more than a touch of arrogance and aloofness, to Singh's, the native Fijian comes off pretty well.

Here's another comparison. Woods will be 29 in December. Singh is 41.

Don't hear that much about that comparison, do we?

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Singh is #1 in the world 2004

    Thom wrote on: Oct 21, 2004

    No question, no discussion... Singh is #1 in golf right now... As far as Singh playing many more tournaments than Tiger (Kudos)... Being from Vancouver and not seeing many of the Top Players at our event for too many years, I would love to see players play more often... in fact they should get more points for attending multiple events not less... It is much harder to perform week after week compared to picking and choosing when and if you play...



    Vinnie Mehta wrote on: Oct 5, 2004

    Why can't we just accept the fact that SINGH is one of the GREATEST GOLFERS!! He has struggled all his life and worked VERY hard without ever asking for a handout. He has excelled in the game through perseverance and yet has been humble throughout his career. He loves his family and seems to have a lot of faith in God. He is a good human being(his recent donation of $50,000 to the Red Cross was a terrific gesture!!)and he seems to be a genuinely nice human being. He was never given his due because he was little known player from FIJI and I am sure he struggled to find a sponsor!!
    He deserves to be hailed as ON OF THE GREATEST GOLFERS OF OUR TIME!! In my book he is living proof of how one can achieve success through PERSEVERANCE, PERSISTANCE and PERSPIRATION(it is damned hot and humid in Fiji!!)
    I will keep him in my prayers and wish him continued success. Even though I am a graying old man, I still hope that I will have the honor of meeting Vijay Singh. God be with him.



      JUAN ELIZONDO wrote on: Oct 6, 2004

      Dear Vinnie: what a wonderful commentary on a great guy. I do know Vijay personally (as you will see by my web site). I spent the entire week with him at the 84 Lumber Classic. He is a great guy and unfortunately, thoroughly misunderstood by the press and by the public. He is all you said and more, believe me. He is a great champion who will ultimately get the respect he deserves, I am certain. Thanks for your insightful commentary and especially for wishing God' blessings on him. Sincerel, Juan


  • woods 2000 vs singh 2004 story

    Robert DeStefano wrote on: Oct 5, 2004

    For heavens's sake it is just a comparison. Woods 2000 year was unbelievable and I doubt if anyone will ever do it again. Singh had a great year and really deserved it but I feel that Tiger will be back and it won't be very long.
    No one is taking anything away from this year by Singh.


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