Live from the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, Captain Golf answers your FAQs.
Q: What was the best finish on the PGA Tour this year?
A: Surprise! It wasn't the Masters. Honestly, aside from a couple of above-average chip shots, was the showdown between Tiger Woods, the best golfer ever, and Chris DiMarco, one of the top bridesmaids in Tour history, all that exciting? Not in ol' Cap's score book. For sheer tension, drama and superlative golf, nothing topped Sunday's Wachovia. If you missed it, Sergio Garc�a watched a huge lead evaporate in the final round, and Vijay Singh survived a three-man, four-hole playoff for his third victory of the season.
Q: Exactly what was so great about the Wachovia finish?
A: It had everything--thrills, spills and Phil. Mickelson put up nine birdies in the first 15 holes, and looked as if he might shoot another 62, as he did at Spyglass Hill this year. Then CBS came on the air and Mickelson promptly dumped another seven-iron shot into Lake Lefty (that's what ol' Cap has renamed it) next to the par-3 17th green. Phil had a bogey and three doubles there. Four pars, and he finishes at 13 under, one better than Singh and the other guys in the playoff, Garc�a and Jim Furyk. Mickelson said later, "For whatever reason, that hole gave me fits." Duh. He wasn't the only one. Garc�a, who lost a six-stroke lead by shooting an even-par 72 on Sunday, also splashed a shot at 17.
Q: Does this make Singh the No. 1 player in the world?
A: It should, but the World Ranking is based on a complicated formula that apparently includes astrological factors. Tiger still holds the top spot even though the victory scoreboard since the start of 2004 reads singh 12, woods 4. "I'm done trying to be Number 1," Singh said on Sunday. "It seems as if I have to win five times to get up there."
Think about it. If Singh doesn't miss a tap-in during the playoff with Padraig Harrington at the Honda Classic, and if a gust of wind doesn't slap down his bold approach on the 72nd hole at Bay Hill, he'd probably be sitting on five victories this year, and there wouldn't be a debate about No. 1. Singh doesn't have the top ranking, but just between us, yeah, he's No. 1.
Q: What's the secret to winning a playoff?
A: The ol' Cap'n won the pressroom Kentucky Derby pool through dumb luck--I drew Giacomo's name out of a hat. Playoffs, though, are all about survival and patience. Singh won in Houston when John Daly snapped a three-wood shot into the water. Same story, different cast at Quail Hollow Club. On the opening hole Garc�a three-putted for bogey to make an early exit. On the fourth playoff hole the steely Furyk blinked, pulling his tee shot into the creek off the 18th fairway. That would've been that, except that Furyk, after taking a drop and pitching back into the fairway, nearly jarred his wedge shot on the fly, which would've been an alltime par. Instead, his ball caromed off the flagstick and rolled off the green. Singh wisely bailed right, then stiffed a bunker shot for a tap-in par and the win.