Singh alone on the Tiger hunt

US PGA: Cool Fijian is the one player unfazed by Woods' imperious march through the major season

First he must negotiate the unfamiliar stairs in his rented house close to Baltusrol Golf Club. Then he must ensure that the kettle does not scald him, nor the griddle on which he will cook his favourite hash browns.

After breakfast it admittedly gets a little trickier as his fate will be in the lap of others, principally his chauffeur, who will have the honour of driving him to the US PGA Championship, and then the rest of the field on the range, who he will count on for keeping a tight hold of their clubs and not letting any slip loose in his direction.

A short buggy ride later and it is hard to see much danger on the practice putting green, while his final trip from there is only 50 yards and deceptively straight and unimpeding. And then he's home and sky high: tournament over, who's coming second, would you like champagne with your 11th major, Tiger, or will an isotonic drink suffice as usual?

Yes, most in golf do believe that Woods has only to make it to the first tee on Thursday and the campaign's last biggie is his. Well, everybody apart from a few of his fellow professionals, of course, though all but one of them can be seen as being seriously delusional. Only Vijay Singh looks to have anything like a justifiable case against the world No 1 notching up his third major of the year, which together with his second at the US Open would represent the finest major-season in history.

It is not only Singh's merit as defending champion that singles him out, or even the fact that he is the only other golfer to have three top-10 finishes in the year's three majors thus far. In Michigan last weekend the Fijian showed he is as unimpressed as ever by the 29-year-old's genius. When he felt the breath of Tiger on his supposedly exposed neck he effortlessly lengthened his gigantic stride to stroll home by a "Woods at St Andrews" margin.

A new putter was to thank for his first title in 11 weeks (an absolute aeon for someone of Singh's voraciousness), not to mention a renewed zest for the fight. "I'm excited about Baltusrol," the two-time US PGA winner said. "Very, very excited."

So, too, is Woods, however. Team Tiger could barely conceal their joy after seeing the 7,392-yard Lower Course for the first time last Monday. "We don't usually play courses this straightforward," Woods said, mouth watering. "The rough is thick, but like any other PGA, it will be fair. That's why we all love playing this championship, because they never go over the edge."

Singh concurred, hinting that a fluke is not on the scorecards. "There's no trick," he said. "It's all about hitting it long and straight. It's not going to be a low-scoring tournament."

But it will be inevitable, or so Hank Haney, Woods' coach, believes. "The rough is very, very difficult and the course is very, very long," he said. "It won't be a problem for Tiger and Vijay, but it will be for a lot of the others."

Well, what of the prospects of these "others", just to be charitable? Ernie Els is not even here (out for the season with a knee injury) while Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen are both the palest shadows of their past selves.

The European challenge can almost be written off as coming from two youngsters who cannot yet link four major rounds together - Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia - and from a resurgent veteran with three swollen fingers who may not even play - Colin Montgomerie.

Indeed, the most intriguing sideshow to the Tiger and Vijay extravaganza could well be John Daly's efforts to reach the par-five 17th in two. The 1991 champion did so the last time the Lower Course played host to a major - the 1993 US Open - but 20 yards have been added since to make it a whopping 650 yards. That will not stop Daly trying as he signified in last week's attempt to drive a ball from Canada to the United States, over Niagara Falls. He came up just a few feet short.

The 39-year-old will simply grin and rip it and leave all the whingeing about the unfairness of "the longest hole in championship golf" to the rest. There will doubtless be sniggers at any such cries of injustice from the ghosts of Baltusrol and not only its eponymous hero, Baltus Roll, the Scottish immigrant farmer who was murdered on the grounds in 1831.

The spirit of Robert Trent Jones might also be heard with a chuckle, too, if the members' bar's tale of an incident that happened in the early Fifties bears any truth at all. Then, the legendary designer was asked to make some wholesale renovations to the course in preparation for the 1954 US Open. Changes completed, some of the crusty old souls on the committee were not too happy with the severity of the swales on the par-three fourth green and ordered Jones back to hear their grievances.

Jones walked with the said dissenters to the said hole, dropped a ball on the tee, swung a four iron and promptly plopped it into the hole with two bounces. "Gentleman, I believe this hole to be eminently fair," he announced, before making his way back to the clubhouse for a large brandy. On the house, naturally.

Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor