Vijay Singh thriving, in contention at Senior PGA Championship

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Vijay Singh thriving, in contention at Senior PGA Championship

Professional

Vijay Singh thriving, in contention at Senior PGA Championship

POTOMAC FALLS, Va. — Vijay Singh turned 50 early in 2013, but his accountant would suggest there were good reasons why Singh never showed much interest in playing senior golf.

Even though his PGA Tour earnings dropped from $1.58 million when he was 49 to just $309,000 in the season in which he turned 50, he bounced back with nearly $1 million in 2014 and more than $1.2 million last year.

Of course, age eventually catches up with every player, and the numbers show Singh is finding it more difficult to be successful on the PGA Tour, where he once was dominant. He finished in the top five in earnings every season of an 11-year stretch starting in 1998.

Leading up to this week’s 78th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, D.C., Singh had made 12 PGA Tour starts in the current season and only two (excluding a team event) with fellow seniors. He’s shot in the 60s in PGA Tour events as many times (six) as he’s posted 78 or 79.

Before high winds turned to impossible in Friday’s second round of the Senior PGA, Singh’s second round of 3-under-par 69 gave him a two-day total of 10-under 134 and the clubhouse lead by one over Billy Andrade. Bernhard Langer had played 14 holes of his second round and led at 11 under par when play was called for the day.

British Open winds turned Trump National into a bear. The Round 2 scoring average was more than four and a half strokes higher than Round 1, and the gusts got so bad they forced a mid-afternoon stoppage of play with only 71 players having finished their second rounds. Play resumed about 35 minutes later, but with the schedule already thrown into chaos following two delays on Thursday, the second round will be completed Saturday morning.

In going 10 under par over the first two rounds, Singh has used his length to its fullest advantage. He’s 7 under on the par 5s, birdieing each of them so far this week except for the third hole in the second round, where a three-putt led to his only bogey of the first two days.

“I’m driving the ball really well, which makes a big difference,” said Singh. “If you drive the ball well on par 5s you’re going in with a middle to a long iron. It’s an advantage. . . . They’re all reachable.”

Andrade came to Trump National full of optimism. He collected his first PGA Tour victory, the 1991 Booz Allen Classic, at nearby Avenel.

“I like this place, for some reason,” he said. “I’ve had some success here. I was thinking about that this week as well, and I’m just looking forward to this weekend and having a chance.

“I just remember having great memories of the fans here being so great. It was a fun time, a pretty cool experience for me.”

Over his opening 36 holes, Andrade’s scrambling has been outstanding. He’s missed 12 greens but has been able to get up and down 11 times.

“I chipped it well,” said Andrade, who’s finished in the top 20 in six of eight Champions Tour starts this year. “All the chips I hit were close. . . . I putted a lot from off the green, so it wasn’t that I was chipping all the time.

“My dad will get on me all time. ‘Boy, you only hit eight greens.’ Yeah, but I was really close to the hole a lot of those times when I was off the green.”

With winds blowing steadily at 20 mph and occasionally gusting to as high as 40 on Friday, there was a dramatic scoring difference from the opening round, which was played under lift, clean and place conditions.

In Round 1 there were 37 double or triple bogeys. Before even half the field had completed play on Friday, that number for Round 2 had already more than doubled.

A few holes, like the fourth and 16th, were particularly brutal.

Playing directly into the gale on Friday, the 210-yard fourth yielded no birdies to any of the first 100 players go to through. The 16th, also playing straight into the west wind, was set up at 411 yards but playing impossibly long. At the time play resumed after the wind delay late Friday afternoon, an incomprehensible 9.1 percent of the field had hit that green in regulation in Round 2.

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