Notes: Singh to leave IMG after 18 years

Vijay Singh during the third round of the 2009 PGA Championship.

Vijay Singh during the third round of the 2009 PGA Championship.

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Vijay Singh has changed putters and caddies throughout his career. Now comes one of the more significant changes. The 46-year-old Fijian is leaving his management company.

Singh says he has ended his management agreement with IMG. He will use longtime adviser David Lightner of FSM Capital and Charley Moore, a former IMG agent who now is an operating partner of New York-based Falconhead Capital.

Singh had been with IMG for 18 years and was close friends with IMG owner Ted Forstman, his frequent partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

“I have been represented by IMG for quite some time and am thankful for their years of service,” Singh said in a statement. “I have many good friends there, and nothing is changing at that level. However, I feel this is the appropriate time to take my career management in a new direction. I spoke with Teddy last week, who is a personal friend, and we had a productive conversation. He knows I wish him and everybody at IMG nothing but the best.”

• • •

TO SHANGHAI: Even after the FedEx Cup ends, another strong field is in the making at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which is now part of the World Golf Championships series.

Phil Mickelson is the latest to commit to the tournament, to be played Nov. 5-8. That gives Shanghai a field that already includes Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, British Open champion Stewart Cink, PGA champion Y.E. Yang, Players champion Henrik Stenson and defending champion Sergio Garcia.

“After the Open Championship, it's hard to think of a bigger or better tournament held outside the U.S.,” said Mickelson, who won the HSBC Champions two years ago. “This tournament already had everything in place and deserved to be part of the WGC series. It has always gotten strong fields and so has a great reputation worldwide.”

The tournament is a winners-only field based on the strongest events in each of the major tours. Among those who have yet to qualify include three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, although he might be able to get in as one of two players from the world ranking not already eligible.

• • •

FEDEX FLAW?: One scenario that must have PGA Tour officials nervous is that Tiger Woods could win three straight playoff events and still not win the FedEx Cup.

To make the Tour Championship meaningful, points will be reset after three playoff events. The leader will have only a 250-point lead over second place, and a 1,900-point lead over 10th place.

If the leader – Woods, for example – finishes fifth at the Tour Championship, he could lose the FedEx Cup if someone from the top 10 wins at East Lake. That got Vijay Singh's attention Tuesday.

“If a guy goes out and wins two or three events, and shows up at the Tour Championship and doesn't win, is it fair?” he said.

Then again, Singh showed up at East Lake last year and was assured of winning as long as he made his tee time each day.

“I don't know which is the best combination,” Singh said. “They will have to try this and if it doesn't work, they will tweak it again. So right now, everybody seems to think it's pretty good.”

• • •

WIRE TO WIRE: Tiger Woods has gone wire-to-wire in only seven of his 70 victories on the PGA Tour, another example that holding the lead for four days is never easy.

That's what makes Ben Curtis so proud of his rare achievement.

Curtis led from start-to-finish at the now-defunct Booz Allen Classic, during which it rained so much at the TPC Avenel that the tournament was not completed until Tuesday.

“I've got one record Tiger will never beat,” Curtis said. “I had to sleep on the lead for five nights.”

• • •

FEWER DESIGNS: Jack Nicklaus’ design company has more than 340 courses in play around the world. But the work has slowed to a crawl because of the global economic downturn.

“It's not very good,” he said recently about the climate for new layouts.

Nicklaus designed the 18 holes at Punta Espada, home of the Cap Cana stop on the Champions Tour. But after putting in nine holes at the Las Iguanas course at the same exclusive resort in the Dominican Republic, the decision was made to wait a year to finish it, largely because of the downturn. Nicklaus is opening the first Golden Bear Lodge & Spa at Cap Cana.

Apparently the market for signature courses isn't bad everywhere.

“Our business primarily has been China, Korea, Russia, South Africa – all those places have continued to move forward,” Nicklaus said. “Most other places and the United States, it's been very, very slow. I think we'll see a turn in the next six months or so.”

• • •

HOLDING PATTERN: Michael Sim of Australia won his third Nationwide Tour event to earn instant promotion to the PGA Tour, although his timing could not have been worse. Four of the next five weeks on the PGA Tour are occupied by the four FedEx Cup playoff events, and the other week is dark. Sim won't get a chance to play the PGA Tour until Oct. 1 at the Turning Stone Resort.

He said he might continue playing the Nationwide Tour to stay sharp.

Because the Official World Golf Ranking award points to the Nationwide Tour, Sim has risen to No. 57 in the world. That would give him a chance to crack the top 50 by the end of the year and qualify for the Masters. And it raises another question in the immediate future. Might he earn consideration as a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup team?

• • •

DIVOTS: The Barclays Singapore Open, the richest national open in Asia with a $5 million purse, will be part of the European Tour schedule next year. It will be held three weeks before the season-ending Dubai World Championship. ... Eight rookies on the PGA Tour qualified for the playoffs. Jeff Klauk at No. 60 has the highest seed. ... Vijay Singh will be trying to win The Barclays on a third golf course. He previous won at Westchester and Ridgewood.

• • •

STAT OF THE WEEK: Michael Bradley (Puerto Rico Open) is the only PGA Tour winner this year who did not qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.

• • •

FINAL WORD:“I would put myself up on that shot against almost anybody in the world with how good that was. I mean, it was ridiculous.” – Cristie Kerr, on a chip shot from behind the 17th green at the Solheim Cup.

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