June 10, 2006

Singh, Howell tied for Barclays lead

By Larry Fine

HARRISON, New York (Reuters) - Vijay Singh ditched his
driver in the hope of hitting more fairways and the strategy
paid off as he fired a seven-under-par 64 on Friday to share
the lead with Briton David Howell midway through the Barclays

World No. 4 Singh, who has gone nearly 11 months without a
victory on the U.S. Tour, registered five birdies and an eagle
in a bogey-free round, while Howell rolled in a three-foot
birdie at the last to complete a 68 and join Singh at 134.

The co-leaders were one shot ahead of Sweden's Fredrik
Jacobson, who posted a three-under 68 for seven-under 135.

"This year has been horrible. I don't know if it's my game
or it's my head," Singh said. "It's just the way I've been
hitting the ball. I've not been driving the ball very good, and
that's been the main problem.

"You cannot play the game of golf from the long grass and
that's what I've been doing. Today finally I started hitting
fairways and seeing a lot of good, positive things. I found a
very good 3-wood that I can hit almost as far as my driver, so
that's been the trick."

The Fijian said a key to his round was an eagle at the
505-yard, par-five ninth, where he hit his approach to six feet
and made the putt.

"That really relaxed me and just gave me a really good mood
to go out and play relaxed golf on the back nine," he said.

Howell said he was playing confidently and gave himself a
chance of winning the $1 million prize here and contending next
week at nearby Winged Foot for the U.S. Open.

"I'm in good shape. I like my chances," he said. "The best
preparation for the U.S. Open is to have your game in shape.
The next step in my career, hopefully, is to win a major."

Tied for fourth place at six-under 136 were Billy Andrade
and Joey Sindelar, one stroke better than a group of eight
golfers at 137, including Briton Luke Donald (65), Australian
Geoff Ogilvy (68) and Brett Quigley (66).

Eighty-four players made the cut set at one-over 143. Among
notables missing the cut were Swede Jesper Parnevik (145),
Japan's Shigeki Maruyama of Japan (147) and Briton Lee Westwood


Singh, who has won at Westchester twice with his 1993 title
here representing his first U.S. tour victory, said he was so
discouraged with his game he thought about skipping the event
to practice for the U.S. Open.

Known for his relentless work ethic on the practice range,
Singh speculated he might need to take some time off from the
game to cure a "tired swing."

"I may have practiced too much," Singh said. "My golf swing
is getting tired. Maybe it needs a rest and come back."

Singh, however, was encouraged by Friday's round.

"This golf course has given me a lot of good things in the
past," he said. "I won my first event here, and hopefully this
is the start of my comeback."