Campbell spoils Tiger's money bid

Posted: Monday, November 10, 2003

HOUSTON The only thing the Tour Championship settled was what everyone knew all along: Chad Campbell has the game to beat the best.

Campbell became the first player to make the Tour Championship his first victory, closing with a 3-under 68 on Sunday to break a tournament scoring record in the PGA Tour's version of the All-Star game.

''It was what I was looking for all year,'' said Campbell, who was a runner-up three times this year, including at the PGA Championship.

Campbell finished at 16-under 268 the lowest score in relation to par in the 17-year history of the Tour Championship to win by three shots over Charles Howell III.

Howell had a 70, ending his streak of seven rounds in the 60s at the Tour Championship. A year ago, he was in the 60s all four days at East Lake and finished second to Vijay Singh.

Retief Goosen had a 69 and was at 272, while Chris Riley Campbell's roommate at UNLV had a 70 to finish fourth.

Campbell wasn't the only winner Sunday.

Singh closed with a 68 to tie for fifth and easily won the PGA Tour money title, ending Tiger Woods' four-year reign.

''There's no holding me back if I want something,'' Singh said.

Woods won the points-based PGA of America Player of the Year award and the Vardon Trophy for having the lowest scoring average. He has won both awards five years in a row.

Woods also broke one of the oldest records in golf by making the cut for the 114th consecutive tournament. Byron Nelson finished in the money 113 times in a row in the 1940s.

Woods needed a victory for a record fifth straight money title. But his putter failed him throughout the week at Champions Golf Club and he closed with a 74 to finish 26th in the 31-man field of top money-winners.

It was his worst finish ever in the Tour Championship, and his score of 1-over 285 was the first time since The Players Championship in 1999 that he finished a non-major over par.

Still to be determined is the PGA Tour player of the year, a vote of the players.

The top candidates Singh, Woods, Davis Love III and Masters champion Mike Weir could have settled matters by winning this week. None came close.

Now, it comes down to Singh and Woods.

''I played consistently all year,'' Singh said. ''In my mind, I've achieved what I wanted.''

Woods said he would be surprised if he were not voted player of the year, referring to his tour-leading five victories, including two World Golf Championships, his Vardon Trophy and not missing a cut.

The ballots will go out Monday.

Singh has momentum on his side, ending his year with two victories, two second-place finishes and his tie for fifth at the Tour Championship.

''He's played very consistently, so you've got to look at that strongly,'' Ernie Els said. ''Then you look at Tiger. He has five wins out of 18 events. That's pretty strong. So at the moment, I'm on the fence.''

One thing on which everyone agrees is that Campbell, a 29-year-old who honed his game and his grit in West Texas, should be a factor for years to come.

He bolted into the lead Saturday with a Tour Championship-record 61, then backed that up in the final round by not giving anyone a chance.

Campbell extended his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 2 and a three-putt bogey by Howell, and when Howell made back-to-back birdies to get within two, Campbell put a swift and decisive end to any charge.

He fearlessly attacked the pin, tucked just over the water on the par-3 eighth, hitting to 15 feet and making the birdie putt. On the par-5 ninth, his second shot cleared the bunker and stopped 15 feet behind the flag, and he rolled that in for eagle.

At that point, Campbell was 18 under par and had a five-shot lead.

This time, no one could catch him.

Campbell played the back nine in 2 over, but he was only trying to avoid big numbers.

He earned $1.08 million and gets to start next week in Kapalua for the winners-only Mercedes Championships.

''He's been threatening for a while,'' Singh said. ''He's a very aggressive player. When he gets it going, like this week, there's no stopping him.

"We'll hear a lot more from Chad Campbell. This is not the end of it.''

This might not be the end of Singh, either, even though he turned 40 this year. He won the money title, something no one besides Woods has done since 1998, and now is setting his sights on replacing Woods at No. 1 in the world ranking, a task that could take a few years.

The only question is whether he beats Woods on the ballots.



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