Golf notebook: Fans cheer, jeer Singh

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--Vijay Singh received a mixed reception from fans in round one at the Players Championship after filing suit against the PGA Tour for, in part, "public humiliation and ridicule."
Singh's suit was announced on the eve of the tournament, even though no action was taken against him after he admitted to using deer antler spray, which contained an ingredient that at the time was on the tour's banned list.
There was one fan, Jim Kavanaugh of Jacksonville, wearing a deer antler hat in the front row on the first tee and another who yelled, "Vijay, you suck!" after the Big Fijian hit his tee shot into the water on the 18th hole.
"Why don't you come here and say that," Singh responded, according to a marshal, but the fan was retreating rather quickly.
Another fan yelled, "Stay off the spray, Vijay."
For the most part, though, fans were polite to Singh as he shot 74-71--145 and missed the cut by one stroke at TPC Sawgrass, right down the street from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
In fact, Singh received some cheers and had some supporters.
"We got your back, Vijay," another fan yelled.
On the third hole, a woman chimed in with: "We don't care what the PGA Tour says. We support Vijay."
The 50-year-old Singh, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame who has 34 PGA Tour victories and 22 more around the world, including three major titles, came under scrutiny when he admitted in a January article in Sports Illustrated that he was using deer antler spray, which contains IGF-1, which was a banned substance.
However, when the World Anti-Doping Agency recently announced that the substance was no longer on the banned list, the PGA Tour dropped its case against Singh.
--By winning the Wells Fargo Championship, rookie Derek Ernst rose an incredible 1,084 spots in the World Golf Rankings to No. 123 last week.
In addition, the 22-year-old from Clovis, Calif., and Nevada Las Vegas earned spots in the Masters, the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Championship and last week's Players Championship. Plus a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
Not to mention that he earned $1,206,000 after totaling $28,255 in his first seven events this season, including five consecutive missed cuts at one point.
Ernst is smart enough to know what really counts.
"The money is money, it will come and go, but winning and having a job and playing out here for the next two years, that's what I want to do," said Ernst, who started the week at Quail Hollow as the fourth alternate.
"I want to play out here, so that is the best part."
Ernst was driving to the Stadion Classic at UGA in Athens, Ga., a Tour event, after tying for 47th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when he got a call from a PGA Tour official, who told him he was in the Wells Fargo field after several players withdrew.
At Quail Hollow, he beat David Lynn of England with a par on the first playoff hole after outplaying the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Nick Watney down the stretch.
Ernst was one stroke behind on the final hole of regulation, but he hit his approach shot with a 6-iron from 192 yards to within four feet of the hole and made a birdie to get into the playoff.
In the Players Championship, he shot 74-81--155 and missed the cut by 11 strokes in his first appearance at TPC Sawgrass.
But he'll be back.
--Donald Trump announced that he plans to extend his golfing empire to the Middle East by building a course in the desert outskirts of Dubai. It's another sign that the emirate's property market, hard hit by the global economic downturn, is recovering.
The Trump Organization owns 14 award-winning courses around the world, but this will be its first in Asia.
"As with all of the courses we develop and manage, Trump International Golf Club Dubai is being built to the highest standards of excellence and will become known as one of the world's finest courses," said Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization.
"The combination of DAMAC Properties' local knowledge and expertise in the luxury market, and our unrivaled experience with owning and operating a collection of the world's finest courses, will result in a challenging golf course with stunning landscaping and superior quality."
There was no immediate word on who would design the 7,205-yard, par-71 course.
Trump owns courses in Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Miami; Aberdeen, Scotland; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and other spots in North America and Europe.
The Trump International Golf Club in Dubai will be the centerpiece of a 28- million-foot project being developed by DAMAC Properties that includes a luxury residential community, hotels, a spa and international schools.
The course will be developed on land purchased from Dubailand, a much-hyped project that included a $1 billion Tiger Woods golfing estate. The Woods project was shelved a few years ago because of the economic downturn after several holes were completed.
--Davis Love III returned to the PGA Tour last week at the Players Championship after missing about three months following spinal fusion surgery Feb. 8 in Atlanta.
The procedure included the removal of bone spurs between his C5-6 and C6-7 vertebrae and a spinal fusion.
Love had hoped to play in the RBC Heritage, which he has won a record five times, and the Wells Fargo Championship in recent weeks, but he wanted to be sure he was not coming back too soon.
"I just need to get strong enough to play golf day in and day out," said Love, who has won 20 titles on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship.
"I can play four or five or six days in a row now. I need to get to where I can play two qualifying rounds, Colonial, Memorial, and two more qualifying rounds. So I need to be ready for stuff like that. I've been able to do it the last few years, but not as well as I'd like, so I'm really close."
It was his 28th appearance in the Players, which he won in 1992 and 2003, and he wound up in a tie for 48th, sliding 22 spots down the leaderboard with a closing 4-over-par 76.
Love said he was pain-free after dealing with an ailing neck since 2000. He'd experienced periodic loss of strength and numbness in his arms in recent years.
"I was very frustrated mentally," the 49-year-old said. "I knew physically I couldn't do it, but I ... was just grinding away, and there was no reason to be doing it.
"So finally I called my doctor ... and I said, 'I'm just beating my head against the wall, aren't I?' And he said, 'Yes, you are. You're going to have that surgery. You can have it now, you can have it in the summer or you can have it in the fall, but you're going to have it this year.'"
The Players was his first tournament since he withdrew after one round of the Waste Manage Phoenix Open early in February.
--Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last week, said he would play full-time in the United States on the Champions Tour after he becomes eligible when he turns 50 on June 23.
Montgomerie, who has never won an official event in the U.S., resisted joining the PGA Tour during his career, staying at home to play the European Tour.
"I look forward now in many ways to starting a new life, a new chapter of my life to come over here now," Montgomerie told reporters before his induction in St. Augustine, Fla.
"Family commitments kept me in Europe. I was very happy and comfortable at home, and my wife and children were in school. I felt there was no need at that stage to come over here."
Montgomerie was one of the first British golfers to come to the U.S. to play college golf, at Houston Baptist, where he earned a degree in business management in 1987.
Then he went home to the United Kingdom and primarily played the Euro Tour, despite overtures from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and his predecessor, Deane Beman.
"I was No. 1 in Europe," Montgomerie said. "I was very happy in Europe and I was comfortable in that position, and therefore I stayed there. If it's not busted, you don't fix it, and that was why I really didn't come over here."
Montgomerie has captured 40 titles in his career, including 31 on the European Tour, but no majors. He made it to the Hall of Fame on the strength of seven consecutive Order of Merit (money list) titles on the Euro Tour and a Ryder Cup record of 20-9-7.
In 2010, he was captain of the European team that defeated the Americans 14 1/2-13/12 in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales.

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