Vijay Singh was delighted as he started the new season with a two-stroke victory at the $5.5m (€4.2m) Mercedes-Benz Championship to become the most successful over-40-year-old in PGA Tour history.
The 43-year-old led throughout the final round, carding a solid, bogey-free three-under-par 70 to edge out Adam Scott as he finished on a 14-under-par 278 on Maui’s Kapalua Plantation course.
The Fijian’s victory was his 30th on the tour, and the 18th since he turned 40, breaking the legendary Sam Snead‘s record for the most victories after reaching that age.
“To pass (Snead’s) record after 40 really doesn’t mean much,” he said. “There’s no trophies for doing it. It’s not even a record, it’s just numbers.”
Singh never gave his rivals a chance during the final round, making birdies at the first two holes while Scott was unchallenged for second place.
The Australian was the only player to put any pressure on Singh, cutting the gap to two strokes with a birdie at par-four 16th.
However, Scott surrendered any chance of catching Singh when he made a three-putt bogey at the 17th, missing his second putt from inside four feet, and a birdie at the last was merely academic.
“I was totally in control of my game,” said Singh. “I was just a little concerned if (Scott) went birdie, birdie (at the last two holes), I’d have to birdie one, but I wasn’t at any point worried about my position.”
Singh collected $1.1m (€845,000) to become just the second player after Tiger Woods to pass $50m (€38m) in career earnings, while he also earned 4500 points in the new FedEx Cup series.
“Coming from Fiji, it’s not easy what I’ve done in my career,” added Singh. “It’s a miracle winning one golf tournament, coming from Fiji.
“Sometimes when you don’t win for a while, in the back of your head you have some kind of pressure, and this eases all the pressure. I’m looking forward to the season and hopefully there’s a lot more wins.”
Singh is benefiting from a decision taken a few years ago to undertake a rigorous physical training regime in an effort to extend his career, which includes training twice a day and hitting around 400 balls.
“Fred Funk won a tournament when he was 48, and I’m a lot bigger and stronger than Fred, so if he can win at 48, what makes you think I’m not going to win at 50,” he added.
“I’m not looking that far ahead. The body is a very unique thing and you can get hurt at any time and that would be the end of the career.
“So I’m trying to be fit, keep my body in shape and be injury free as much as possible. It’s so easy to fall off the top, and once you’re sliding down, you’ve got to have something to hold onto.”
Scott, 26, led the tributes to Singh, and said: “I think experience plays a big part. That’s why you see Vijay continuing to win. I think he’s a great ball-striker. He hits enough balls, so he ought to be.”