Age is starting to creep up on Vijay Singh, who turns 46 in February and spent the last 3 months taking the longest break of his life to let nagging injuries heal.
But against a world-class field yesterday at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Singh looked as good as new.
With three straight birdies early on the back nine to get into contention and a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Singh closed with a 5-under 67 for a one-shot victory over Steve Stricker to finish off the most lucrative season of his career.
"When I show up and I know I can't win the golf tournament, I'm going to quit," said Singh, who finished at 11-under 277 to win Tiger Woods' charity event for the first time. "But as long as I show up and know that I can win, I'm going to keep playing."
Stricker came up short of the 18th green and had to scramble for par, closing with a 68 to earn $840,000, his biggest check this year.
Singh virtually vanished after capturing the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus on Sept. 28 at the Tour Championship. He went an entire month without hitting balls to rest a left arm wracked with tendinitis - "I haven't done that in forever," he said - and only began practicing for the Father-Son Championship earlier this month.
Age doesn't stop him. Neither does rust.
Making it even more challenging, Singh showed up at Sherwood Country Club with a new driver. But he kept the ball in play on the weekend, the key around this course, and played the par 5s in 9 under during his 67-67 weekend.
Singh won $1.35 million and pushed his earnings for the year to over $18 million. That includes the $10 million bonus from the FedEx Cup, along with $6.6 million on the PGA Tour to win the money title for the third time in six years.
"Very unexpected," said Singh. "I was just hanging in there. I figured if I shot 67 or 68, I would be right there with a chance."
Anthony Kim, the 54-hole leader, closed with a 73 and tied for third with Hunter Mahan, who shot 68, at 7-under 281.
* The final official shot of 2008 was a tap-in birdie by Richard Sterne to win the South African Open in a playoff, capping his unlikely climb in the world rankings to be among 15 players yesterday earning a Masters invitation.
Three players on two continents made one final push for the top 50 in the rankings to make the trip to Augusta National.
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, tied for third at the South African Open, held in Paarl, and will move up to No. 39, and Lin Wen-Tang, of Taiwan, tied for sixth in the Volvo Masters in Bangkok, Thailand, on the Asian Tour and will be No. 49.