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Singh: Ruthless and immoral, or simply careless?

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Vijay Singh should be remembered as one of golf’s most successful late bloomers, with 22 of his 34 PGA Tour wins taking place in the decade since he turned the big four-oh. He should be honored for his 26 second-place finishes, 17 third-place finishes and the more than $67 million he’s earned on Tour. He should also get a place next to Ben Hogan on the Mount Rushmore of golf as one of the all-time range warriors.

Instead, the last lines of his legacy may end up reading the same as his early entries: cheater.

A recent Sports Illustrated story exposed a small sports supplement company that had been marketing a spray containing IGF-1, a growth hormone-like substance that is banned by every major sports league, including the Tour. The story named several prominent athletes as clients, including Singh. Like most of the athletes who are caught using, he claimed that he did not know the product, which is derived from deer antlers, contained a banned substance. To his credit, Singh has admitted his use of the product and is complying with Tour officials as they investigate they situation.

“I am absolutely shocked that deer-antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position. I have been in contact with the PGA Tour and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter. I will not be commenting further at this time,” said Singh in a written statement.

Tour officials will want to know how long he has been using the product and what else he may have been using before determining what action to take — including a possible suspension, a decision that could ultimately cost Singh millions in endorsements and prize money. In the meantime, Singh has withdrawn from the latest Tour stop, the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz.

It’s not a stretch to say that Singh is one of the least popular players on the Tour, so it’s no surprise that he isn’t getting much support from his peers.

‘‘It’s sad that people live and die by their sport and they have to, I guess, cheat and go around it and try to better themselves with deer-antler spray,’’ Bubba Watson told reporters in Scottsdale. ‘‘I’m not just going to take something and ask questions later. I’m not going to take deer-antler spray and find out what it is later. I think we should check them for mental problems if they’re taking deer-antler spray. That’s kind of weird.’’

Tour veteran Mark O’Meara went on record calling for Singh to be suspended.

“Probably he should be suspended for a couple of months, and I don’t know what the PGA Tour Commissioner is thinking, but people have had to pay the price before and he should be no different,” O’Meara told reporters.

Like Tiger Woods, Singh doesn’t have an easy smile or a “aw shucks” way of talking to the press or the fans. On the contrary, he seems to go out of his way to alienate, aggravate or intimidate anyone around him that he doesn’t feel the necessity to connect to, which is barely anyone.  Once after a practice session, I asked him if I could get five seconds for a couple of questions. He looked me over, raised and eyebrow and said, “I’ll give you three.”

A lifetime of being crunchy and obtuse leaves Singh ill-equipped for the public relations storm that he will have to navigate over the coming months or even years. Through his many accomplishments, Singh had managed to bury the stigma of allegations of improving his lie and altering his scorecard while on the Asian Tour during the 80s. He also managed to distance himself from the disparaging remarks he made about Annika Sorenstam’s historic appearance on the men’s tour.

But this time, it will be harder to avoid a lasting scar. Singh finds himself now categorized in a group that includes Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez. They’re all considered cheaters, guys who would do anything to obtain and maintain excellence. They all have stellar career records that are now regarded as counterfeit, even the portion of their achievements that came before they began using PEDs.

Bubba Watson has a point; you’d have to be almost crazy to check for the banned ingredients and not see them on the list. I found the ingredient in just a casual search of the Tour drug policy guide. It leads the skeptic to think three things.

  1.  Singh believed that he was getting a product that would help his aging body stay young.
  2. He had faith that the product would achieve that because it contained a substance that is banned precisely because it did just that.
  3. Like every other steroid peddler, the deer antler spray guys likely told Singh that it was untraceable. It seems like a hard line to take, but that has been the path that virtually every other performance enhancing drug case in every other sport has taken.

The PGA Tour is probably as ill-equipped for this situation as Singh. While they do in fact have a detailed policy, they have little practical experience with how to handle a positive test or an admission of guilt like Singh’s. Indeed, since testing began in 2008, only one player, Doug Barron, has tested positive and subsequently been suspended.

Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem would be well served to give MLB Commissioner Bud Selig a call. Selig knows all too well the perils along this path. As the guardian of his sport, Finchem may be tempted to gloss over, minimize or even cover up elements of the story out of a desire to keep the sport out of the negative spotlight. Such actions proved folly for baseball. When every owner and every player knew there was a problem in the sport, instead of confronting the issue they chose collective silence as a course of action. It proved to be a disastrous decision, rendering a generation of its greatest stars irrelevant to the overarching history of the game.

As the Tour determines what to do in the case of Singh, officials should keep in mind that baseball and golf are similar in that their histories are just as important as their present. The ability to draw a line of comparison from Tom Morris to Tom Watson to Bubba Watson is essential to the appreciation of the ancient game. While most have come to grips with the effect that equipment technology has had on the game, there will likely be no tolerance for game improvement via illegal supplements.

For Vijay Singh, the coming days will determine whether he will be perceived as ruthless and immoral, or simply careless and gullible. For the sport, the challenge will be to respond to this incident in a way that prevents an isolated spot from becoming a lasting stain.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. John Fugazzi

    Mar 12, 2013 at 2:19 am

    One sided, lop sided, and short sighted. Vijay Singh probably was an naive idiot for actually hearing and trying some herbal remedy. Shady players have personal shoppers who buy things like this for them to “give a try.”

  2. Screamin'

    Feb 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I seriously doubt that deer antler spray is the reason for his success after 40.

  3. Red

    Feb 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…always a nice catalyst for rip-job article

  4. Anthony D'Cruz

    Feb 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

    It appears that Vijay is not very popular. Can you imagine what would have happened to him had he stolen a cm or two on the putting green and sank the putt for a win? What if he had declared it was an ‘honest mistake’? Would he have been let off? I’m afraid the poor man’s already been found guilty before the hearing.

  5. Harbaugh

    Feb 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Bubba kicking a man while he is down and being applauded for it – what on earth???

  6. Tony

    Feb 3, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I find this article fails in providing an objective view i.e. it is charged with bias. Leave your hurt feelings and opinions at the door if you claim to be a jouurnalist. Epic fail.

  7. Eric Evans

    Feb 2, 2013 at 10:15 am

    This does not surprise me one bit about Vijay considering how much of an a$$ he is.

  8. Troy Vayanos

    Feb 1, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I couldn’t imagine Vijay Singh ever taking a banned substance to gain an advantage over his opponents. I’m still not sure how this would help in golf anyway.

    The only substance that would benefit in golf would be beta-blockers which are banned anyway.

    I’m be interested to follow this story and see how it turns out.

  9. Mac

    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    its a bunch of b.s. when he says that he didnt know it contained the substance, he obviously knew that it would help with anti-aging to stay in the PGA for as long as he could, but to end like this? Terrible choice, v.j. terrible choice.

  10. Bill's an idiot**

    Feb 1, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Too*

  11. clay smith

    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Although the article nails him in his attitude and how people feel about him, (seen him up close at a tournament), why would he tell a national magazine reporter he was using it if he was hiding it? What’s funny is most of these (over the counter) products are bogus, make bogus claims, and don’t do what they say. Plecebo effect. I think he should be tested to see if he has any IGH-1 in his system, I bet he doesn’t, and then assess a punishment if necessary. Maybe a slap on the hand for not ‘checking’ on the ingredients.

  12. Blanco

    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:22 am

    From what I know about the deer antler, it’s been used in the past by many a high-profile PGA tour player, all of whom are not mentioned in this article… there is also no discussion of what may have led Singh to use it. I also understand that it gives the body a larger dose of one of its naturally occurring chemicals that aids in recovery from injury (as opposed to something that provide a competitive advantage over healthy golfers), ala the Toradol injections used by hundreds of NFL players before every game… This is the extent of what I understand yet I realize there is more to it of course.

    Just as the PGA goes out of its way to be vague and “obtuse” in dealing with rules violations, the author and GolfWRX continues to puzzle me with articles like this. I look to the front page for golf journalism, and the forums for opinion. Most of the writers on Golfwrx write in a journalistic manner and when opinion pieces are written, the “opinion” is clearly understood by reading the article’s title. “Singh: “R”uthless and immoral, or simply careless?” leads me to think I’ll hear at least two sides to this story.

    Instead, I’ve just wasted two minutes on a purple anti-Vijay tabloid piece. If Williams considers himself a journalist, he has again compromised his integrity by revealing his personal distaste for Vijay (and Tiger Woods conveniently) and giving zero voice to the contrary of Mark O’Meara and Bubba Watson of which there is plenty. In fact, I’ve read a few articles published in respected news outlets where the “least popular player on the PGA tour” stigma has been accurately painted as a media-born concept and holds no weight in reality.

  13. DH2

    Feb 1, 2013 at 12:51 am

    He is a selfish person who doesn’t care about others. I pulled some major strings for him and no gratitude was given back. I work for a major Hotel in Denver and called in a favor to a trainer at an exclusive athletic club. Vijay got to have the weight room to himself for half an hour each day for a week. Vijay and his trainer did not thank me or give me a gratuity for my efforts. I hope the tour suspends him.

  14. Gibby

    Jan 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Once a cheater, always a cheater. Remember the hat he wore that said “Tiger Who”

    Well soon it will be “Vijay Who” He will always be remembered as a cheater who treated everyone around him like crap!

  15. LBW

    Jan 31, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    VIJAY IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN A PERSON THAT PUSHES THE RULES TO THE POINT OF CHEATING

  16. MaxW

    Jan 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Vijay strikes me as an intelligent guy; irascible and a curmudgeon, and definitely not careless and gullible. He knows you play the game of golf by the rules. He knows there are banned substances. He knows one phone call to the PGA tour would determine if the product and/or substance was banned or not. Just like on the course he can ask a rules official about a rules situation or not. He did not ask the Tour about the product/substance and now he should pay the penalty.

  17. naflack

    Jan 31, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me considering who his trainer is…

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Opinion & Analysis

A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters

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Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.

However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.

I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.

There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.

If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.

Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.

Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.

Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!

At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.

Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.

It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”

What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.

You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.

 

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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown

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Following on from our Golf Movie Madness contest which saw GolfWRXers vote “Caddyshack” the best golf film ever, we thought it was time to up the ante and find out the GolfWRX consensus on one of the more debated subjects in golf—U.S. Open host venues.

We’re matching off the last 16 U.S. Open venues to find out what GolfWRXers think is the ultimate U.S. Open course.

As with our Golf Movie Madness contest, we’ll leave voting open for 48 hours for the first eight head-to-heads. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and matchups for the next four games.

So get voting below and let’s find out who GolfWRXers crown as the ultimate U.S. Open course!

 

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

Game 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Torrey Pines SC

  • Years Hosted: 2008
  • Winners: Woods (-1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 1

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Game 2

Oakland Hills SC

  • Years Hosted: 1951, 1961, 1985,1996
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Littler (+1), North (-1), Jones (-2)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.25

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

U.S. Open Game 2

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Game 3

Chambers Bay

  • Years Hosted: 2015
  • Winners: Spieth (-5)
  • Avg. winning score: -5

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

U.S. Open Game 3

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Game 4

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

Olympic Club

  • Years Hosted: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
  • Winners: Fleck (+7), Casper (-2), Simpson (-3), Janzen (E), W. Simpson (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: +0.75

U.S. Open Game 4

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Game 5

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Bethpage Black

  • Years Hosted: 2002, 2009
  • Winners: Woods (-3), Glover (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.5

U.S. Open Game 5

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Game 6

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

Olympia Fields CC

  • Years Hosted: 2003
  • Winners: Furyk (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -8

U.S. Open Game 6

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Game 7

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Erin Hills

  • Years Hosted: 2017
  • Winners: Koepka (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -16

U.S. Open Game 7

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Game 8

Congressional CC

  • Years Hosted: 1964, 1997, 2011
  • Winners: Venturi (-2), Els (-4), McIlroy (-16)
  • Avg. winning score: -7.33

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

U.S. Open Game 8

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Opinion & Analysis

Retro golf video game review: CyberTiger for N64

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Being stuck at home indoors as spring officially arrives stinks—period. Now with that in mind, we also hope that everyone out there, along with your family and friends, are healthy, happy, and safe.

Like others around the world, we at GolfWRX are doing our part to stay home and catch up on both television and video games while also supplying you with the most interesting ways to keep engaged in the game we love. Speaking of video games, one of my all-time favorite systems is the Nintendo 64 and to me, it is still home to one of the most fun (albeit not highly ranked) golf games of all time: CyberTiger.

Cyber Tiger for Nintedo 64 was released in 1999 and fits securely in the category of arcadey and fun golf. Compared to other N64 games released around the same time period, the graphics leave something to be desired, but considering the style and forgiveness of the gameplay nearly 30 years later, we can let it slide.

Gameplay

The gameplay is simple and overall very forgiving for any level of gamer. The only difficult thing for some to get a handle on right off the bat is shots around the greens. You are only given the option to either chip, pitch, or attempt a very limited full shot—it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it but starting out its easy to see how this part of the gameplay can be frustrating.

Game modes are as straightforward as you can imagine: stroke play, match play, tournament mode, practice range, and Tiger Challenge. The latter being one of the most fun in multiplayer since you get to remove a club from your opponent’s bag if you win the hole.

Characters

Options here are extremely limited and include—Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara—no seriously that’s it for actual tour golfers. Beyond those two, you are given the option of Lil’ Tiger (Teenage Tiger), Lil’ Mark (Teenage Mark), and then a handful of no-name brandless figures, including Chip and Mia. One thing to note is there are a number of ridiculous characters easily unlockable using cheat codes, but for what it’s worth, playing as a teenage Tiger is still a lot of fun. (Hint: UFO)

Courses

Since this is a cartridge Nintendo 64 game, memory is at a premium and courses are limited. There was licensing in place from the PGA Tour which allows for a “Best of TPC” composite course as one of the initial options and features a selection of holes at TPC Sawgrass.  Beyond that many are hard to recognize in the hole-by-hole setting of the game.

Not to fret though, there is a total of five courses in the game, which can also be unlocked using cheat codes easily found online. I realize five courses seem beyond limited in today’s world, but they offer enough variety and fun that whether playing alone or against a friend it never feels overly repetitive.

Overall

If you happen to find yourself with a few hours to kill and have a Nintendo 64 (or an emulator), I highly recommend finding a copy of Cyber Tiger and taking your best shot at a few tournaments or playing against a friend. If nothing else, it might take you back to when you were 14 and had nothing else to do on a rainy day when you couldn’t make it to the course.

 

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