The third time was the charm for Vijay Singh as he finally won the PGA Tour’s season-concluding Tour Championship. Three times the event has been played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and each time Singh has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead. In 2002 Singh took a three-stroke lead into the final round and held on to win by two.
The win and $900,000 check moved Singh into third place on the money list with $3,756,563. Tiger once again topped the money list, earning $6,912,625 from only 18 events. Mickelson, who played in eight more events than Tiger, was second on the list, with $4,311,971.
Tiger also led the tour in scoring average and is a lock to pick up another PGA Player of the Year award.
In fact, over the first half of the year it looked like Tiger would sweep all before him. The best golfer in the world won the Masters and the U.S. Open in typical Tiger fashion. It marked the first time any golfer had won the opening two majors since Nicklaus did it in 1972. Talk of the calendar grand slam grew and grew and suddenly the improbable looked possible.
However, a wet, windy Saturday in Scotland proved that even the Tiger is fallible. Ernie Els stepped into the breech to lift his first Claret Jug and reaffirm his status as one of the best golfers in the world.
The PGA Championship was the feel-good story of the year. Rich Beem, a former stereo salesman, held off a charging Tiger to win by one and surprised the golfing world.
During the press interviews after Saturday’s third round, Beem commented that he was likely to throw up Sunday if he found himself in contention. He wasn’t sure if he had it in him to win a big one, he told the assembled media.
Then the next day Beem went out, stared the best player on the planet down, and walked away with the Wanamaker Trophy and a ten-year exemption to play the PGA Tour.