Late success with putts earns Singh his second straight victory

NORTON, Mass. -- Vijay Singh kept pouring in birdie putts, 35 feet on one hole and 60 feet on the next, as cheers turned from disbelief to sheer amazement.

That might be the last bit of excitement for this edition of the FedEx Cup.

Despite a volatile new points system designed to give more players a chance, Singh took the suspense out of the PGA Tour Playoffs with an 8-under 63 on Monday to win the Deutsche Bank Championship in record fashion. It was his second straight victory, giving him such a large lead that he could wrap up the $10 million prize before the Tour Championship.

"Right now, my focus is going to be next week, and see if I can wrap it up," Singh said.

A year ago, Tiger Woods drained the drama from the postseason by tying for second at the TPC Boston, then winning the final two events.

Singh has been even more impressive.

He won The Barclays in a three-man playoff last week, convincing himself that he was the best putter in golf. He made even more believers on a gorgeous Labor Day south of Boston, making birdie putts of 35 feet, 60 feet and 35 feet on the back nine to turn this into a runaway.

"He played amazing. It was awesome," said Sergio Garcia, who was paired with Singh and closed with a 72. "I don't think you guys are going to realize how good that was, because you're aren't playing and you don't know how tough the course was playing. When Vijay plays like that, it's hard to beat him."

Tour officials said any of 24 players still have a mathematical chance -- assuming Singh finishes last in the final two tournaments, and some of those guys win both events.

Don't count on it.

"He's back to form," Ernie Els said. "He's such a great player when he gets on form. He's playing really good golf, he's got some confidence going. He's going to be a dangerous guy."

And a richer guy, at that.

Singh set tournament records with a five-shot victory over Mike Weir (71) finishing at 22-under 262, breaking by two shots the record set by Adam Scott in 2003. He collected $1.26 million, enough to finally replace Woods atop the money list at over $6.4 million. Woods has not played since season-ending surgery after the U.S. Open.

Singh won for the third time in five weeks after going more than a year without a PGA Tour victory. He now has won three of his last five and moved to No. 3 in the world ranking Monday.

Attribute this to the power of positive thinking.

Singh, who has long struggled with the putter, convinced himself last week to stop reading negative comments and consider himself as good as anyone with the flat stick.

He has heard his share of psycho-babble, but realized the most important message came from within.

"Whatever they can tell me, it works briefly," he said. "But it has to come from inside me, and that was the biggest thing. I arrived last week at Ridgewood with a great attitude on the putting green and just kind of felt like I belonged on the greens. That was the biggest thing."

Another test came on the 14th.

Singh took the lead when Weir made double bogey on the ninth, then the 45-year-old Fijian made an 8-foot birdie on the 11th to build his lead to two, and stretched it with a 35-footer on the 13th.

He pulled his 9-iron approach to the 14th, however, leaving him 60 feet away. That's the kind of putt he usually hopes he can lag close enough for an easy par. But not this time.

Once on the green, he kept telling caddie Chad Reynolds, "I'm the best putter in the world."

"And he said, 'You're damn right you are, now go ahead and knock it in," Singh said. "And I made it. Instead of standing there and hoping you're going to get up-and-down in two, I was trying to make those putts."

Weir dropped to 1-9 on the PGA Tour when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead, unable to contend with big hitters on a blustery day. Even so, he moved up to No. 3 in the standings behind Singh and Garcia.

Els flew too many greens and made too many bogeys to make a charge, closing with a 70 to tie for third with Camilo Villegas, who shot a 73.

This was the final tournament before U.S. captain Paul Azinger makes four picks to fill out his Ryder Cup team, and his job didn't get any easier.

The top American was Tim Herron, who shot 65 and tied for fifth with Garcia at 13-under 271. It was the first top 10 for Herron all year. Chad Campbell made a late push with a 69-66 weekend in the toughest conditions of the tournament to tie for seventh with Justin Leonard (67) and Jim Furyk (72), who already have qualified.

Azinger was to announce his picks Tuesday morning in New York.

Too bad he can't claim Singh, a good friend, as an American.

Singh has a 12,225-point lead over Garcia. That means Singh is assured of having the lead going into the Tour Championship, and another top finish might be enough to wrap up the title if none of the guys immediately behind him win in St. Louis next week.

"I'm going to go out and play really hard," Singh said. "If I have another win, it will be icing on the cake. But I don't take anything for granted."

Herron's biggest week allowed him to keep playing. The top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the third round of the playoffs in St. Louis this week at the BMW Championship. Herron started the week at No. 99, but his tie for fifth moved him all the way up to No. 48.

Former U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera shot a 71 and claimed the 70th spot by 121 points over Pat Perez. Among those who failed to advance was Sean O'Hair, who was 16th when the playoffs began but missed two cuts and fell to No. 75.