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December 28, 2004

Vijay Singh

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, everyone, for joining us. Vijay Singh is coming off one of greatest seasons in PGA TOUR history with nearly $11 million in earnings and nine official PGA TOUR victories, the first of which was at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Vijay, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

VIJAY SINGH: You're welcome.

JAMES CRAMER: Perhaps you could get us started and maybe comment a little bit about what your victory last year at Pebble Beach meant to jump-start your great season.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know it was never expected to be what it's turned out to be, but it's always nice to win a tournament very early in the season. It kind of relaxes you and gives you a very good, you know, frame of mind to go ahead and attack at other tournaments. It was just a good platform to step on to and then go ahead and play, and I just played really relaxed from there on and just played great. I think that was a key victory to my great season because it kind of relaxed everything.

JAMES CRAMER: You've played Pebble Beach for a number of years and you've always seemed to enjoy the format. Maybe could you speak a little bit about your friendship with Teddy Forstmann and what it means to play with him every year.

VIJAY SINGH: I think this is the 11th or 12th time we are going to play next year, and it was -- we didn't make that many cuts. I think we made only three or four cuts all this time playing, but it was good to play with him. He's probably one of my best friends out there and I've known him for, like I say, 11 years and we just have a good relationship. Now since he's bought IMG, we more or less work together, and we had a good chance of winning, as well. I think we were one back with eight to go. It's a shame we didn't win it; we finished second. But we really are looking forward to playing again this year. I think it's going to be one good tournament for me and for him.

JAMES CRAMER: Maybe you could talk a little about the early part of your season, what you're looking forward to and getting off to a good start.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, the Mercedes has always been a great tournament at the start of the season. It's a limited field and no cut, and just ahead and just play, you know, and play aggressively for the whole four days. So, you know, I've been working hard on my game and my physical side and just getting prepared, you know, doing a lot of good things. And unfortunately there's a lot of wind, so we have a good time playing in the wind, as well, because Hawaii is always going to be windy. I think that's a good start for the season, Hawaii. If I can pull one or wins off, I think that would be a great way to start the season. But Torrey Pines I haven't had much success, but I know I can play well there. The first of the season is a key for me, play solid and try hard and see if I can pull a tournament or two off.

Q. You accomplished so much last year, reached so many goals, what are your goals this year? Have you set out anything, you know, specifically of what you're trying to accomplish?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't really set goals, but it's going to be a hard one for next season. I just want to go out there and see if I can play like I did last year, not really focus on so much winning golf tournaments or the Money List or my position in the World Ranking. I just want to go out there and play aggressively and play strong. I'm looking forward to it. I'm really excited that it's almost there now, and I just want to go out and want to play well and not force anything onto myself and see what happens. Obviously, the majors are one of my real focus points. I'll see if I can focus more on the majors and see if I can prepare a little more intensely for those ones.

Q. I had a question about your success at Pebble Beach. I think it's five out of the past six years in Top-10, and you won it last year. What is it about that, either the courses or the format or whatever that you just feel in a comfort zone there or why do you think you played so well there in this tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, the key is I think to enjoy your time with your partner. I mean, I have a good relationship with my partner and I just seem like, you know, I just have a good time. It doesn't frustrate me to play, you know, six-hour rounds. At some points it gets long, but I just hang in there and go along for the ride. At the same time, I focus on my own game. The golf courses are really good. I love playing at Pebble Beach, and Spyglass is one hell of a golf course, as well. But Poppy Hills, it's tough to get around there without hurting yourself. (Laughing). See if I can get around with a few under par. That's a golf course we have a lot of guys go low. When the weather is good, you want to take advantage of that. But just play patient, and I think that's the key for a long tournament like that, and it is a long tournament, trying to play all three golf courses and the tournament course. And it's always very wet, so you have to be pretty physically fit, too.

Q. What do you remember about last year's tournament? I know you came in and it was you and Aaron on that last day, and you just kind of ran away with it.

VIJAY SINGH: I think the start I had was incredible. I think I birdied the first three holes. It kind of shook him up a little bit. I didn't really hit a fairway, but I made birdies from the rough. You know, the start is pretty much what I remember. By the time I made the turn, I birdied 10, I think I chipped in on 10, and then I had a three- or four-shot lead. And the back nine coming in wasn't that difficult, so you just try not to hurt yourself and make any bogeys. So I just played very conservatively and very smart and never, you know, really got into any trouble.

Q. Might have been the second round where you had some amazing, I think it was at poppy, amazing chip shot over the trees, do you remember that? That was --

VIJAY SINGH: That was 11, wasn't it? I think I hit -- no, it was the 10th hole.

Q. That 10th hole down there you got to the right. What do you remember about that shot?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, the good thing about it was I had a decent lie and I had a full shot in, you know, and I had an L-wedge. So although the water was on the other side and it was straight downhill, the lie kind of dictated everything and I just hit a perfect shot. I didn't expect it to go that close, but with the greens being that soft, you can actually attack more to the holes there.

Q. Did you think it might be your week when that happened?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, it was still the second round I think and I was playing well. I just told myself, just be patient, you don't really know who is leading until the first three days. So you start going around with some decent scores and try not to drop any shots. I just tried to make a decent score on every one of the golf courses and see the result after three days and then gauge your position then.

Q. Following up, you talking about the golf courses if you wouldn't mind, if you could talk about your strategy, if you have a specific strategy for each course. It's three different places and three different courses, or do you just stick to one strategy and/or apply it to all three?

VIJAY SINGH: The key there is the wind. If you try to get -- if you get a day in Pebble Beach without any wind, that's the easiest course without any trees without the wind; that's when you try to take advantage. If it's a windy day, you'd rather be on a tree-lined golf courses where it's sheltered a little bit. You try to figure out those little things. And if you are in Pebble on a windy day, then you know that you've got to play it really smart and not to drop too many shots. Pebble is a golf course where it gets windy, and it's a really, really hard golf course, especially along those coastlines. So you just have to gauge -- I think the key there is the weather and see. There's no real strategy to go out there and attack the golf courses. It's so wet most of the time, I have no fear of overhitting any shots because the greens are so soft and all that. So you can be aggressive and play.

Q. Do you have any favorite spots along any of the golf courses, either because you like the golf hole or just the feel or the scenery of it or the history of it?

VIJAY SINGH: I just think the holes starting on 4, you've got 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are spectacular, and then 17, 18, I think those are the holes that kind of brings you back every time to Pebble. Every time even though you're having a bad day, you go out there, for some reason, calms you down and gives a great feeling all over.

Q. Of course, if it's not raining.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, even then, it's spectacular. You know, whichever weather you go into those few holes, it's just unbelievable. I just love Pebble.

Q. Have you done anything differently in the month of December than you did last year, or do you just stick to pretty much every routine you have both on and off the course?

VIJAY SINGH: You try to touch on things that you think you need to work on. I still need to work a lot on my putting and just little drills that I've been doing in the past to make sure the hips are working good and legs are working the right way, and really nothing much. Apart from that, you know, I've been kind of working a lot more with my physical side, doing a lot more drills, a lot more plyometric stuff and I strengthen the core muscles and all that. That's the off-the-golf-course stuff I've been working pretty hard at; besides that, everything is pretty normal.

Q. In looking at both golfers and other sports, injuries and things that catch up with people sooner or later, how have you been able to figure out exactly when enough is enough and what are the right things? Is it trial and error, or have you always just known your body well enough to know that you can practice as much as you do?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been practicing a lot, you know, four or five years ago, but I've cut down on the practice a lot. I do a lot of things on the golf course but not really hitting balls as much. Two, three -- you know, two, three days out of the whole week, I will be on the range beating a lot of balls; that's when I'm really working on something. Most of the time it's just feeling around the greens, hitting a lot of pitch shots, chip shots. And I have a real good physiotherapist that comes home every day, his name is Frank, he's been working with Rocco and Lickliter and he's always at home when I'm at home and he'll be treating my body. Even though it's not hurt, he will be doing some sort of work to just avoid getting injured. You know, just maintenance, that's what he calls it, and I'm blessed with having a guy like that. And Joey has always known my body really well and Joey is my trainer. He'll know when I'm tired and he'll know when I'm not working right and he sees all of that. And obviously, I know myself and when I feel like I've had enough I'm just going to take a day or so off.

Q. But that generally takes time for you to learn how to judge all that now, and I guess it changes year-to-year?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, pretty much. It also depends on how much time you had off in the season, you know, and how much time you have in the off-season. This off-season, even though I have not had that much time off, but I've had in a way since THE TOUR Championship, I've only played one four-round tournament. And normally I go overseas and play three or four of them, but, I don't know, I played the Grand Slam, I played the Skin Game in India, which was just a day, and played the Father and Son, which was two days. So I haven't really played much, but I've traveled a lot. I really had a lot of time off. Those are all -- I consider those more or less a cool-down period, you know.

Q. So you feel pretty much refreshed at this point?

VIJAY SINGH: I do. I've really worked hard. Last week I worked hard. It was really intense, and the weather has been really cold, so that kind of didn't help me. And this week started really miserable but it's better, so I'm now stepping up my practice. Hopefully by the time I get to Hawaii, I'll hopefully take off and arrive in Hawaii really refreshed. I'm really looking forward to it. Also, the mind has got a lot to do with it.

Q. What's it like entering the season No. 1 in the world? Is it a different feeling knowing that everybody is now chasing you or is it a motivation to stay there? Just what's your mindset being No. 1?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, haven't started the season ever before being No. 1. But, you know, I guess I played, probably, what, seven eight tournaments at the end of the season being No. 1. So you know you kind of get used to it. You don't really focus on that so much. Even though it's a great feeling to know that you're the best player in the field day-in, day-out, that's playing, it's just a great -- it gives you a lot more confidence, a lot more boost to your, I guess, ego, I guess. It just lifts you up a little bit more and saying, hey, I'm going to take charge, I'm the best player here. Kind of that attitude, you know. It's not a cocky attitude, but it's a very, how can I say, it just makes you feel so much better. You've got to kind of start talking to yourself to the point that, hey, there's nobody here that's going to beat you, kind of that attitude. But, you know starting next season, I know everybody is going to be starting level. World Ranking does not matter at all. So you've just got to go out there and just play and get in front as quick as possible and see if you can stay there. That's the way I've always thought, and hopefully I'm going to start that way again.

JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to thank everyone for joining us this afternoon, especially thanks to Vijay Singh for taking time out of his busy schedule today to join us. Thanks, Vijay.

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