-- Vijay Singh has been playing the best golf in the world for a long time. Now he has Tiger Woods's No. 1 ranking to prove it.
Singh finished his long climb to the top of golf's ultimate leader board by beating Woods in a head-to-head matchup, shooting a 69 on Monday to win the Deutsche Bank Championship by three strokes and claim Woods's spot as the top-ranked player in the world.
It was Singh's sixth victory of the year, enough to convince the computers that crunch the numbers what many have known for months.
"Finally, it's turned into my favor," said Singh, who birdied three of the final four holes to win the $900,000 first prize. "I've worked pretty hard for this. I finally achieved what I wanted to do starting at the beginning of the year.
"It was a good win, as well. Coming down the stretch got pretty tight there, but I got focused and I played pretty good coming down."
Woods had been No. 1 for more than five years -- a record 264 consecutive weeks -- in the rankings that consider performance over the past two years, factoring in the strength of field. Singh had winnowed Woods's lead to 12.09-11.91 heading into the Deutsche Bank, needing to finish ahead of Woods to pass him.
The new numbers had Singh at 12.72 points to Woods's 12.27, making Singh the first player other than Woods to hold the No. 1 ranking since Aug. 8, 1999.
"That's not too bad, is it? I've had a good run," Woods said. "I'm not disappointed about the ranking; I'm disappointed in not winning. . . . Winning takes care of the ranking."
Singh and Woods were tied at 13 under after Singh bogeyed the 13th hole, but Woods bogeyed the next one and Singh birdied No. 15 to pull ahead by two strokes. The 41-year-old Fijian added birdies on the final two holes at the par-71, 7,415-yard TPC of Boston to finish 16 under, three ahead of Woods and defending champion Adam Scott.
"It was a golf tournament to me. It wasn't about the ranking," said Singh, who has won the past nine times he has taken a lead into the final round. "It wasn't about going out there and trying to beat Tiger and beat the number one player. I was out there trying to win the golf tournament and that was my goal starting out today.
"You know, Adam Scott nearly jumped up and took it away," he added, "but I was very focused."
Scott started the day seven strokes behind Singh before making the turn with four consecutive birdies to get into contention. He birdied the 18th to move into second place at 13 under, and Woods's 69 matched him; John Rollins and Daniel Chopra were another two strokes back at 10 under.
Singh took a three-stroke lead into the final day and made it four when he dropped to 15 under with a birdie on the first hole. But the lead disappeared when Woods chipped in for birdie on 12 and Singh went over the green with an 8-iron on 13, then missed a seven-footer to save par. That left them tied at 13 under.
On No. 14, a 485-yard par-4, Woods and Singh were six inches apart on the green, about nine feet from the pin. Singh sank his putt to save par, but Woods pushed his putt to the left for a bogey. On the par-5 15th, their drives landed six yards apart on the fairway, but Singh put his approach within four feet and Woods was 17 feet from the flag; Singh got another birdie to drop to 14 under and Woods two-putted for par, leaving him two back.
After making another birdie on 17 to expand his lead to three strokes, Singh smiled and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd for the first time all day.
"I made the putts that counted," said Singh, who birdied the final hole after missing a 22-foot putt for eagle. "The big putt was on 17. When I made that one, I said, 'That's it.' "