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Original Issue

Pour Sport Vijay Singh was one of the few players who left Houston with a smile

After an eight-hour rain delay last Saturday, a six-hour holdup
on Sunday and a virtual tornado of bitching and moaning, the
skies finally cleared on Monday morning at the Shell Houston Open
and the players got back to golf. By that time Vijay Singh had 24
holes to play and a share of the lead. When the final round
began, Singh, the only top 10 player in the field, was alone in
first, and he went on to shoot a four-under 68 for an 11-under
277 total that clinched his second Tour title of the year.

The victory made Singh smile, but a day earlier he had been among
the many pros expressing dismay that they hadn't been allowed to
finish the third round on Sunday. "I wanted to play today," said
Hank Kuehne, "but at least they could have told us earlier."
Hammerin' Hank was backed up by Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton. "We
didn't get any word from the Tour. That was the problem," said
Sutton. "I guess men don't communicate very well. Isn't that what
we're told?"

Sutton sounded as if he might've been writing a self-help book,
Men Are from Mars and Tour Players Are from Venus. But when it
comes to feeling slighted, the men of the Tour take a backseat to
no one.

Sounding like the exasperated parent most Tour officials are
forced to play, tournament director Mark Russell dismissed the
complaints. "[Rules official] Robbie Ware went [to the locker
room] every hour or so, but if you go over there, they look at
you as if you're an idiot, and if you don't, they complain. I
mean, all they had to do was look out the window."

Maybe so, but for every player who looked out the window and
thought, We can play in that, another took a peek and thought, We
should call it off now.

"There is nothing wrong with [calling it after] 54 holes," said
Paul Azinger. "The whole way it was handled didn't make any sense
to me." Perhaps it would make more sense if Azinger thought back
to the mid-'90s, when the Tour endured a streak of bad weather
that led to a lot of tournaments being cut short. The players
didn't like it and insisted that in the future the Tour try
harder to always play a full tournament.

"The regulation on the PGA Tour is 72 holes--that was put in
place by the players," said Russell. "We make every effort to
finish on Sunday by 6 p.m. Eastern time, but if we don't, we go
to Monday."

Not that the rain should have surprised anyone. In eight of the
last 32 years the Houston Open has experienced major weather
delays, including three years when the tournament was called
after 54 holes and two years when it had to be rescheduled and
finished at a later date.

This year it took only one extra day, and it was a good one for
Singh, who's now second on the 2004 money list but still feeling
slighted about not being named player of the year in 2003. He's
determined to prove his run at the title was no fluke. "Vijay's
motivation to get off to such a fast start comes from not winning
player of the year last year," said his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi.
"All of us around Vijay knew he was the best player last year."

COLOR PHOTO: HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES (HOUSTON OPEN) WATERLOGGED Three days of rain brought a flood of complaints and a Monday finish.





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