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Singh sharp in ending drought

Three’s a charm for Vijay Singh at the Barclays Classic. The win — his third here — ended a 21-event winless streak.
Three’s a charm for Vijay Singh at the Barclays Classic. The win — his third here — ended a 21-event winless streak. (Getty Images Photo / Richard Heathcote)

Vijay Singh tuned up for Winged Foot with a perfect US Open-style round on the windswept Westchester Country Club course in Harrison, N.Y.

Patiently closing with a bogey-free 3-under-par 68, the three-time major champion won his record third Barclays Classic yesterday to end a 21-event winless streak.

``Playing the back nine, although I hit one or two bad shots, it did not bother me at all," Singh said. ``I just kept right in there and kept going. I knew the holes coming in were going to be tough. You can't run away on this golf course. Every hole is a very testing hole, so you can't think ahead.

``If I keep my head straight [this] week, I think I'll be a big factor," he said.

Singh, a shot behind leader Billy Andrade after the third round, took a two-stroke lead over Brett Quigley with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 218-yard 16th and birdied the par-5 18th to finish at 10-under 274 -- two strokes ahead of Adam Scott.

``This gives me a lot of confidence," Singh said. ``It gives me the feeling that, hey, if I get in contention, I can finish it off."

Also the 1993 and 1995 champion, Singh is the first three-time winner in the 40-year-old tournament and only the second player to win three PGA Tour titles on the Westchester course. Jack Nicklaus won the 1965 Thunderbird on the hilly, tree-lined layout and added Westchester Classic titles in 1967 and 1972.

The 43-year-old Fijian won for the first time since the Buick Open last July to raise his PGA Tour victory total to 29 and tie Sam Snead's Tour record for victories after turning 40 with 17. Singh won after failing to finish under par in his previous three tournaments, the first time he had done that in regular PGA Tour events since 1998.

``I was never worried about a win," Singh said. ``I was worried about the way I was playing. The pressure kind of mounted that way . . . My head was correct. I wasn't getting angry with my game -- not letting bad shots affect me like the last few weeks."

Singh had only one birdie in the first 15 holes -- a two-putt birdie on the par-5 fifth -- with the wind swirling through the trees at 10-15 miles per hour and gusting to 20-25 m.p.h. on the course about 5 miles north of Winged Foot.

``I was just making pars and keeping steady," he said. ``I played the golf course. I just played my own game."

Scott eagled the 18th -- his second eagle of the day -- for a 70, while Quigley shot his second straight 70 to join Andrade (72) at 7 under. Tom Pernice (67), Jeff Sluman (68), Luke Donald (70), and Fredrik Jacobson (71) tied for fifth at 6 under.

Scott holed a 30-yard pitch on the par-4 11th to take the lead at 9 under, but dropped a stroke on 13 after hitting his drive into the left rough, and three-putted the 14th from inside 5 feet to fall to 7 under. He followed with a double bogey on 16 before birdieing the 17th and holing a 25-foot eagle putt on 18.

``I just didn't want to get down on myself," Scott said. ``I saved a bit of face at the end with the birdie-eagle finish and I got second place out of it, which is better than finishing par-par and coming in 12th or something."

Scott has finished in the top four in his last four PGA Tour starts. The 25-year-old Australian tied for fourth last week in the Memorial after missing the cut two weeks ago in the European tour's BMW Championship.

Quigley, winless in 268 PGA Tour starts, made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to tie Singh and Scott for the lead at 8 under before falling back with a bogey on the 13th after hooking his drive into the trees. He parred the final five holes.

``I played pretty well," said Quigley, the Barrington, R.I., player who began the week by winning the US Open qualifier at Canoe Brook. ``I hung in there . . . Normally, my strength is my putting. Not that it let me down, but I just didn't make any putts."

Pernice, playing in a threesome with Masters champion Phil Mickelson, took the lead at 8 under with a sand-save birdie on the par-5 ninth, his third straight birdie in a front-nine 30. He had three bogeys and a birdie on the back nine to finish at 6 under.

``I hit some really nice iron shots," Pernice said.

Mickelson shot a 72 to finish at 1 under in his final tournament round before the US Open. He has won the last two majors.

``I thought it was a good week in preparation for [this] week," Mickelson said. ``Hopefully, come Thursday, my game will be sharp and I'll be ready to play."

European -- In Oberwaltersdorf, Markus Brier shot 3-under 68 to capture the Austrian Open by three strokes.

Brier began the day up by a stroke and finished at 18-under 266. Soren Hansen (65) was at 269 with Simon Dyson (71) at 270.

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