Rich day for Vijay

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2003

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Vijay Singh took all the drama from the Funai Classic at Disney and pushed it into the final two weeks of the season, winning with ease Sunday to surge past Tiger Woods on the money list.

Singh quickly broke out of a four-way tie and never let anyone get within two shots of him on the back nine.

He finished with another long birdie putt for a 5-under 67 to win by four strokes over Woods, Stewart Cink and Scott Verplank.

He won $720,000 for his fourth victory of the year, which left him poised to end Woods' four-year reign of the PGA Tour money title.

Singh, who finished at 23-under 265, now has a $250,094 lead over Woods and a huge advantage by playing next week in the $4.8 million Chrysler Championship in Tampa.

Woods, who already has played eight fewer events, is skipping that tournament.

Woods is going after a record fifth straight money title, and he did well to make sure the gap wasn't worse.

Despite a bogey on the first hole, he shot 31 on the back nine at Magnolia for a 65 and wound up in a tie for second at 269.

In fact, Woods picked up an extra $98,000 in a matter of two minutes when Cink and John Rollins missed par putts on the final hole.

Even so, Singh could clinch the money title by winning in Tampa, which would be worth $864,000. Otherwise, the money title will be decided in Houston at the Tour Championship.

Woods did not seem fazed.

He said he's not playing in Tampa because he wants to be fresh for the Tour Championship, and he was not overly concerned when told that Singh could make the final event of the year a moot point.

''It's important, but it's not that important,'' Woods said. ''If he has it wrapped up, so be it.

"Anybody would rather have player of the year than the money title.''

Even the PGA Tour player of the year is in question.

Woods has five victories, one more than Singh, although the 40-year-old Fijian had a stronger performance in the majors.

Woods is already a lock to win a fifth straight Vardon Trophy.

While the season-ending awards are up in the air, there was little doubt about the outcome at the Funai Classic, where Singh continued to play at the highest level of his career.

His four-shot victory was the widest margin at Disney since Jack Nicklaus won by nine shots in 1972, and it ended eight straight years of the tournament being decided by either one shot or a playoff.

With Singh cruising to victory, it was crucial that Woods finish as high as possible, and he helped his cause by chipping in for eagle on the 10th hole and making enough putts to slowly climb up the leaderboard.

Whether it was enough will be determined in the next two weeks. And most of it is up to Singh.

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