Thursday, June 30, 2011

EP 6-year-old wins Little People World Golf Championship

Eden Prairie’s Pranay Singh faces a dilemma. When asked to name his favorite golf memory, he has a hard time deciding. Is it last year’s hole-in-one he carded on the No. 7 hole at Waters Edge in Shakopee, or the up-and-down that iced last week’s Pepsi Little People World Golf Championship Tournament in Quincy, Ill.?

When pressed, the soon-to-be first-grader wearing the Snoopy belt picks the up-and-down.

“The kid he was playing against hit his tee shot a couple feet from the hole,” said Vivek Kumar, Pranay’s father. “Pranay chunked his. It was the last hole and Pranay was leading by three. If the other kid birdies and Pranay gets a five, it’s a tie.”

Singh’s second shot settled just off the green, some 20 yards from the hole.

By the time he hit his third shot, the green was ringed with an estimated 100 spectators.

Going for par, he hit a flop shot that bounced once and then rolled in the cup. Game over.

Singh finished with a two-round 61 (30, 31), besting the second-place finisher (Texas’ Rohan Kommineni) by four strokes. The field included 30 golfers.

His all-time favorite golf memory? “Winning,” he said.

Early start

Yes, Singh started golfing at an early age.

“He started walking at 11 months,” said his dad, “and held his first club shortly after that.”

At first, he used plastic clubs and a plastic ball. From there, he progressed from a plastic ball to a real ball. The rest, as they say, is history.

His favorite club? “Driver,” he said, “because it goes far.”

At a hair shy of four feet, the 6-year-old can hit a ball 140 yards.

But that’s not his strength; his strength is his short game, minus the putting.

“He’d rather hit from just off the green than just on the green,” said his dad.

As one might guess, his golfing ability has attracted some attention.

“More experienced golfers watch him swing and get pretty depressed,” said mom.

The true measure of his ability, however, can be seen on the course.

“They see us at the tee box,” said dad, “and right away think they’ll play through.”

“But they never catch us,” adds Singh.

In July, Singh will take his game to San Diego, where he’ll compete in the Junior World Championships, a tournament that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson won in their youth.

Last year, Singh finished 21st. This year’s goal? “Winning,” he said, while adding that he thinks he’ll have to shoot a one-under- par 53 to do so.

When asked if he’s ever finished under par, he smiled before he answered. “Not yet,” he said.

Read more: Eden Prairie News - EP 6 year old wins Little People World Golf Championship

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Johnny Miller: The show will go on without Tiger Woods

The U.S. Open will miss Tiger Woods this week at Congressional Country Club.

But Johnny Miller said golf fans have begun to acclimate to the absence of the game’s marquee attraction.

“I think the U.S. golf fan, the world golf fan is unfortunately getting used to not having Tiger around,” said Miller, the lead analyst during NBC’s coverage of the 111th U.S. Open. “Obviously we’d like to have him here and it was a heartbreak for him and us that isn’t here. But golf is bigger than Tiger.

“For awhile, it was a toss-up.”

Woods, 35, will miss his first U.S. Open since he was an amateur in 1994 as he continues to recover from injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon.

During his career-long, 19-month winless streak, Woods has been plagued by lingering injuries and personal strife, and has undergone a major swing change.

In the process, he’s played just 22 full-field events worldwide, with six top-10 finishes - nearly a third his 2009 total (17) in 19 events. That year, he won eight times, but underachieved in his mind because he didn’t win a major.

Woods’ Sunday charge on April 10 at the Masters indicated better days were to come, even though he missed some key putts that ultimately led to a tie for fourth place.

The old Tiger - who won 14 major championships - never would have missed two short putts he needed on the back nine of a major championship.

But rather than work on his game, Woods had to rest injuries he re-aggravated during the third round at Augusta National. Woods tried to play a month later at The Players Championship, but withdrew after shooting a 43 for nine holes.

If Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, had played this week, he’d have been rusty, lacking confidence and likely out of the mix on Sunday.

Miller, the 1973 winner, would have liked to have seen for himself, but said the U.S. Open will go on without Woods and provide the kind of drama no tournament in the world can match.

“Everyone wants to see who can handle the pressure and play well and be a hero or make mistakes the last day,” Miller said. “There’s nothing like the U.S. Open. There’s more trainwrecks and carwrecks than any other championship.

“I’m sure the ratings would be higher if Tiger is in contention on Sunday, but bottom line it’s going to be great. It’s the U.S. Open, man.”