Singh rediscovers Masters form to end two-year title wait

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Vijay Singh cruised to his first PGA Tour title in two years with a tournament-record score at the Houston Open, the most decisive win on the tour this season.

Singh led by at least three strokes throughout the final round and eventually defeated the Ulsterman Darren Clarke by six for his first title since the 2000 Masters.

After 24 top-10 finishes and four second places since then, the win was long overdue for the 39-year-old Fijian. "It took two years to do it, and I'm glad I did it," said Singh, who won with a 72-hole total of 22-under-par 266 a record for the tournament for strokes under par. Singh's winning margin was the biggest since Joel Edwards' seven-shot win at the Air Canada Championship in September.

Clarke began the day three shots behind Singh but struggled to a 71, finishing alone in second in a rare PGA Tour appearance. The two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, of Spain, played in the final trio and was third at 273.

Singh, who missed the cut last week in The Players Championship, birdied the first hole and tightened his hold on the lead on the 13th when Clarke hit his tee shot out of bounds. Singh took his second shot over the water on to the green and two-putted for a birdie, while Clark scrambled to save par.

Singh took a five-stroke lead when he narrowly missed an eagle putt and settled for a birdie on the 15th and Clarke bogeyed the 17th.

Clarke got his first birdie on the fifth and reached 17 under par with another birdie on the seventh to make the turn the same way he started the day, three shots behind Singh.

He missed a three-footer for birdie on the first hole and he narrowly missed a birdie putt on the 12th. Singh blasted out of a bunker on the hole and saved par to keep his three-shot lead.

Singh blew away the field in Saturdays third round, opening a six-stroke lead, but then he bogeyed the 14th and Clarke birdied to start a rally that gave him a chance going into the final round.

Hal Sutton, the defending champion, shot a 69 for a 282 total. Greg Norman, playing the tournament for the first time since 1991, closed with a 76 to match Sutton at 282.

The tournament will be played at Redstone Golf Club beginning in 2003, ending a 27-year association with The Woodlands.