Here We Go Again!

By Peter Aviles
Updated: January 5, 2005

Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh

MAPLEWOOD, NJ.—Here we are, on the precipice of the 2005 golf season with the advent of the Mercedes Championship being contested from January 6th to the 9th in Kapalua, Hawaii. This is taking place while the fond memories of a magical 2004 are still omnipresent in the crevices of my cranium. These thoughts will slowly fade away with the passages of time though there are three things that will always stay with me. The first is Vijay Singh, who captivated not only a nation, but the world with his play. Perhaps more important was the grace and elegance he displayed as his carved out a season with nine wins that can only be rivaled by Tiger’s nine win 2000 season. The fact that he is 41 and physically superior to many half his age makes his accomplishments even more impressive. It is fitting that his efforts were rewarded with him being selected as “Player of the Year.”

My second thought on the 2004-year in golf is the well-deserved and long overdue induction of Charlie Sifford into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Many lessons can be learned from his life. Words like perseverance, commitment, and dedication readily come to mind. There were players who performed better on the golf course, but not many who have performed better in life. When you think of role models, this is one gentleman who is a role model for the world, and though confronted by the inequities and iniquities of others, he endured, and did not allow the inhumanity of others to take away his humanness and dignity.

The third thought of the 2004 season is on the world rankings. Tiger played in 19 events in 2004, winning only once while remaking his swing as he did years earlier. However, when a Todd Hamilton, a Q school graduate who honed his skills on the Asian tour, wins two events, including a major (British Open), questions abound. For any other golfer, 2004 was a successful campaign, but for Tiger Woods….

The 2005 season arrives with much anticipation as the number one and two golfers in the world are golfers of color. Vijay leads the way at number 1one followed by Tiger. Expectations are high as Tiger seems to have regained some of the magic, making for some compelling golf as Vijay will look to continue to assert himself even more than before. In a review of their year-end statistics, there are a number of things one can point to that can keep Vijay at number one or have Tiger replicate 2000 when he won nine events including two majors (U.S and British Opens).

Statistically, Tiger and Vijay are extremely close in many of your major categories. For starters, Tiger is ranked ninth in driving distance at 301.9 for 72 rounds while Vijay is number 13 at 300.8, a scant difference of 1.1yards. Driving accuracy, however, sees Vijay ranked at number 149 at 60.4 % while Tiger’s rank is 182 at 56.1. Improvement by either could create greater distance between the two or possibly be the difference whether either player wins. Both are close in scoring average with number 1 Vijay at 68.84 while Tiger is ranked number 3 with 69.04 scoring average. The closeness in scoring average is surprising, because when you look at greens in regulation (gir), Vijay is number 2 at 73%, while Tiger at 66.9 is in 47TH place. A few more gir’s by Tiger should provide greater scoring opportunities. Similarly, putts per round sees Tiger ranked at 20 with 28.44 while Vijay is at 115 with 29.24. While the difference seems minuscule at .8, this disparity again could be the difference between winning, or just cashing a nice check. If Vijay improves in this area, he could really distance himself from the competition.

There are other categories one can review, but as we all know, statistics are great for discussions and fantasy sports. The one thing we all can agree on, and be happy about with the beginning of the 2005 season, is that with Vijay and Tiger competing, we are in for another riveting year. Here we go again!