Two weeks into the PGA Tour playoffs, one of the surprise contenders for the FedExCup title is Vijay Singh, the 2008 champion.
And the 10 days off before the BMW Championship begins next week figure to benefit the 48-year-old from Fiji more than any of the 70 players remaining in the hunt, especially since he has been slowed by elbow, knee and back injuries the last three years.
In fact, Singh’s recent surge has come after he flew to Germany early in August to undergo non-traditional back treatment from a specialist, including several injections.
Fred Couples saw the same doctor and came back to win the Constellation Energy Senior Championship three weeks ago.
“Actually, (Couples) was there a few days before me,” said Singh, who missed the cut in the PGA Championship after returning from a month off but then tied for fourth in the Wyndham Championship and tied for third in the Barclays to open the playoffs. “It’s worked miracles.
“I’m playing well because I’m feeling good. I can be more aggressive and not really worry about how I’m going to wake up the next morning, and if I can play or not.
“I’ve been struggling with this for two years, so it’s the first time I feel really comfortable to go out and there and swing the club instead of trying to guide it.”
Sure, he shot 75-70 to miss the cut by two strokes in the Deutsche Bank Championship and slipped six spots to 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, but he actually played reasonably well except for a two-hole hiccup in round one at TPC Boston.
Still, Singh has shown that he’s a different golfer than he was for most of the year.
Before this run, he had only three finishes in the top 10 this season, including a tie for third in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and solo second two weeks later in February at the Northern Trust Open.
Over the next five months, his best result was a tie for ninth in the Wells Fargo Championship in May.
“I don’t hurt as much anymore,” said Singh, who has 58 victories in his career, including 34 on the PGA Tour, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. “Doesn’t mean I don’t hurt. But the back’s a lot better and that’s the big thing.
“It makes a big difference when you are hitting the ball that hard, trying to swing. So I can swing more freely now. There’s no restriction in the back anymore. It’s probably the way I swung like three or four years ago.”
Singh doesn’t expect to reach the lofty heights he achieved after winning nine times on the PGA Tour in 2004 and unseating Woods atop the World Golf Rankings, a spot he held for a total of 32 weeks that year and into 2005.
However, simply being competitive has him believing that he can win again. His last two victories came when he virtually wrapped up the FedEx Cup title by winning the Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship to open the playoffs three years ago.
Even his putting, always the X-factor in his game, is coming around as he approaches that earlier form. He averaged 26.5 putts per round last week.
“I’m putting really well now,” said Singh, who suddenly is bidding to make the International team for a ninth consecutive Presidents Cup, or all of them that have been played, in the matches scheduled for November at Royal Melbourne.
“My mindset (on the greens) is kind of a little bit different now because I’m hitting a lot more shots close to the flags and attacking the flags more. There’s more confidence. I just hope I keep playing the way I am. I’m working hard, feeling strong.”
He’s not feeling old anymore. Instead, we’re seeing the Vijay of old.