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December 20, 2007

Vijay Singh

DOUG MILNE: Vijay, thanks for joining us. As you come off a tie for eighth at last week's Target World Challenge, you're continuing to work hard on your game in the off-season. If we could just get an assessment of your game as you prepare to return to Maui for the Opening Drive for the FedExCup.
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I've been playing very well after the end of the TOUR, which my last event was Atlanta. But worked pretty good, played well in Asia, didn't play well last week, but I hit the ball very good. Didn't putt as well as I wanted to.
But the swing change is coming along. It's a lot of good coming out of it, and I'm feeling more and more comfortable, so I'm just working on my game here and getting ready for Mercedes.

Q. Can you be a little more specific what the swing changes kind of entail, and then conditioning-wise, are you doing anything different with that program as you get one year older, and are there any more challenges to what you want to do as far as your conditioning as you kind of creep forward a little bit?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, last year obviously I was very disappointed in the way I played. Although I had two wins, I was really very discouraged in the way I -- the mid-season and during the majors.
Hence I checked my golf swing, and the golf swing went from a very good position in the top to a not-so-good position so I had to change my takeaway to fix that. That took a long time to fix. Any time you change something so drastic like that it takes longer than you think, and to grow comfortable with it, too. In the meantime I've worked hard on it.
I made a trainer change the middle of the season, and I'm getting very well along with my new trainer and he's done a lot of good for my body, new routines and programs, and I feel a lot stronger than last year. We all say that, but I feel really very comfortable with my body. I've lost -- I don't know if I've lost any weight, but I've lost some size so I look a lot taller now than I did last year. That's all positive, and just feeling really good about my game. I think I'm going to get stronger until I go to Mercedes and keep working out and see how I do from there.

Q. When things weren't going so well the middle of last year with your swing, what were you seeing with your ball flight and what are you seeing now in trajectory and ball flight with your swing?
VIJAY SINGH: I really don't want to hit much of my shots left because I always play for a fade. Towards the middle of the season I started seeing a lot of balls that I hit really for the ball to start straight and fall right, it was almost drawing. And the more I did that, the more I compensated with my golf swing and the more it got worse. I think by the end of the season it got really bad where I was pretty much trying to hit it on-line without making a positive swing at it.
I looked at the videos and saw that, hey, this is not where I want to be. The position on top was very low, very flat and laid off, and that's pretty much the worst place I want my golf swing to be.
Right now it's totally changed. It's so much more upright, so much more down the line, and it's kind of more in sync with my body. As I get stronger and faster with my body, I think the golf swing has to be in good position to react. It could not have done that from the old position.

Q. A little bit more along the lines of what you were just talking about, I guess towards the end of the year and through the FedEx events you were getting increasingly frustrated. I'm curious if you sort of said, I need to sit back and adjust, and maybe if that's why you didn't play as much in the fall. A lot of people were sort of surprised that you didn't keep right on going. Is it because you decided to take the time to work on these changes, and was it a pretty drastic thing that you had to address?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it was. I mean, I started it during the start of the FedEx Playoffs. I started -- the real major change started at Barclays in New York, and I said, I'm not going to be off it. If I keep doing that, by the end of three or four events, I should be okay. By Atlanta I was playing a lot better, but I still felt very uncomfortable.
During the off-season I did play. I played three tournaments overseas, and that was mainly for -- I had a good opportunity to go out there and play and earn money. At the same time it was a good time for me to go out there and actually challenge my golf swing, and it worked. I played well, and the golf swing worked and kind of gave me more and more confidence. I won in Korea straight after The Presidents Cup, and that gave me a lot more lift to my confidence that the swing does work.
Right now, I mean, the golf shots I'm hitting are so much more better. The ball flight is a lot more stronger and it's more crispier than what I was doing in the middle of the season. Everything is looking pretty good so far.

Q. You don't sound as if you are making any concessions to age whatsoever. Is that sort of your mindset, that there's no reason why you can't perform at the level you did three, four, five years ago?
VIJAY SINGH: I feel a lot stronger now than I did then. The trainer I have now is 41, and his body looks like he's 21. There's no reason why I shouldn't feel the way I see it and the way he sees it, there's no reason why I shouldn't feel as strong as he is or as he feels. We're not even worrying about the age. We're just worrying about how the body tone is, how the body is feeling. Age does not matter at the moment, it's absolutely just a number, and we don't even consider that. We sit back and we joke about the age but never really seriously think that age will ever matter.
I'm pretty big size-wise, and if I get my body in good shape and in good tone, I think the size itself is going to make a big difference to how far I can hit the ball and how long I can stay out there and be competitive. Fred Funk won when he was 50. He won last year on TOUR, and if you look at Fred Funk's size and mine, there really is no comparison how much bigger I am than he is.
I am a lot stronger, and hence I can last a lot longer. That's the advantage I've got.

Q. I was just wondering if you could explain who your new trainer is and when you guys started working together.
VIJAY SINGH: I started in July. Joey left me in July, and Jeffrey Fronk his name is, his grandfather came here -- he is from I think the Pittsburgh area, a steelworker, and he's totally German. His mom and dad are totally German, he's German, but he doesn't speak a word of German. But I think the mentality itself is there.
He worked for the New York Jets two years as a special training guy. He was a trainer for the wide receivers and quarterbacks and all that. He trained those guys for two years, then came to the Jaguars and did the same thing for Jaguars and then opened his own fitness center here. I always went to him for training even when I was working with Joey. I used to do -- when Joey had off days, I would go to Jeffrey.
Once Joey left me, I went to Jeffrey, and he said, okay, I'll let you know in a few days, and the next day he said he was ready to go, and that was it. It was a great fit and it was a blessing in one way that I had Jeffrey because his training methods are totally different than Joey's, not that Joey was bad. I think Jeffrey's training methods are -- I like it a little bit more because it's a lot more faster workout, a lot more dynamic training and just doing me a lot of good.

Q. What is the primary difference? Other than faster workouts and dynamic training, is it more emphasis on flexibility and stretching?
VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I mean, I am pretty flexible by nature, I guess. I'm a flexible person. But just a lot of different routines. My routines from day-to-day change. It's on the same lines of strengthening the same body parts, biceps, triceps, chest, back, low back, legs and all that, but at the same time they are all different workouts. There's no one day where we go into the gym and do the same kind of workout. Every day is a different kind of workout but really intense and really dramatic workouts.
Just the other day he came up and said, let's do a "300" workout. I don't know if you've heard of that, but the movie "300" they came up with their own workout routine. We did that, as well. It's a whole new kind of set of workout routines that keeps you on your toes. You don't get bored. Each day you go there, you don't know exactly what you're going to do. He's going to do different things.
I didn't really know how to jump rope very well, and now we started jumping rope, as well. That's something really different that I've never done, and he said boxers and all those guys do this, and I kept doing that.
I enjoy it a lot more now than I've ever done.

Q. I'm trying to remember, it seems like maybe at Barclays you might have indicated that going forward you might play a little bit less in '08, maybe down from your up in the 30s to maybe the high 20s. I'm wondering what were your thoughts on that and the reasoning behind it?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I'll probably still do it. I'm going to pick and choose. I think I'm going to -- when I get on the road for five weeks in a row, my body kind of gets tired, and when I do come back for a week or so, I'm not ready to go back out again. I'm still -- I come back and I try to make up for lost time in the gym and practice if I'm not playing well.
This time I'm going to either do two or three and then take a week off and try -- when I go out there I'm ready to go again, energized and charged. I'm going to pick and choose my tournaments a little bit more. The few that I don't need to play, I won't be playing. I think that's what I -- just to be more ready when I get back out there and not feel tired after a good run. When I come back home, when I go out there I want to be ready and not even more tired when I get back out there.
I don't rest like other guys. When I come back home it's into the gym and really vigorous workouts and making sure that my golf swing still stays the same. It's just going to be a lot more easier if I take a little bit more time off.

Q. Speaking of picking and choosing, I'm wondering, looking ahead to the Mercedes, it looks like there's going to be a couple guys that aren't going to make that trip. It's always been the first tournament on the schedule here, or at least has been for a while, and yet it just sort of sneaks up on you and the season sort of starts without much fanfare, unlike say the NFL or the NBA or baseball or a lot of other sports where they really build up to it. If you could change anything about that, what would you do to start the season off with a bang, because obviously they fixed the back end with the FedExCup playoffs but the beginning almost starts -- we're basically crawling out of bed and getting over our New Year's hangovers and it starts and you don't even notice.
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I would really push the end-of-the-season tournaments one week back and do the same thing in the beginning, so that way we'd probably start -- instead of the 3rd, start on the 9th or 10th. The week of Sony would be Mercedes week and have the end of the season, the TOUR Championship, maybe one week later. They could do that. I'm sure they should be able to do that.
Besides that, I mean, we do get -- this year was great. After TOUR Championship, after The Presidents Cup, we got a lot of time off. If you wanted to take a lot of time off, you could. I think a lot of guys going back out there who haven't played much after the TOUR Championship aren't going to be ready to play.
I think in one way we got a lot of time off, and in another way it's the holiday season and it's just unfortunate that the tournament comes in so quickly, but it's a big event and I think everybody should be grateful that we have a big event to play in and not just take for granted that it's the holiday season and we shouldn't be having a tournament.

Q. I'm just wondering what your take is on Rory Sabbatini, how well you know him, whether he's got a bad rap. Maybe the media doesn't know him. I figured maybe you might be able to relate on that front.
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I don't know what happened to him on Sunday. I don't know if he was hurt or whatever, but to shoot 3-under the first day and then shoot a bad number on the second day, I'm sure he must have hurt one way or the other. But he's his own man. He's got his own rules. He's a great player, and he knows how to play. It's very hard for me to comment on my own peers. I get along okay with Rory, and I'm sure 80 percent of the guys get along okay with him. Okay is not great and okay is not bad, you know? Okay is okay.
He is okay. If it was me, I can only talk for myself, he's okay. He's an unusual person, but unusual is not a bad thing.

Q. Two questions: What are your thoughts on the drug policy, and especially in light of what's happened with the baseball announcements in the last couple weeks?
VIJAY SINGH: It gets everybody on their toes. But I think the guys they've got to worry about are the guys that are taking something. I don't really think it's going to affect anybody on TOUR. I don't think anybody on TOUR takes anything. I would be surprised if they come up with something.
I think all the players are pretty good about it. I really don't see anybody -- there's no objection from anybody, so I'm sure it's not a big deal to do this. I have no problems with it, and everybody I spoke to, all the players I've spoken to, they don't have any problems with it.
The baseball, all the drug problems that they have, I think it just kind of puts everybody on their toes. Even though we don't have to worry about it, it does affect our minds one way or the other. But I have absolutely no problem with it.

Q. The other one, I guess kind of a whimsical question, how many putters did you use last year?
VIJAY SINGH: Surprisingly only two (laughing). They were both long putters. I changed my grip once or twice, but the putters stayed the same.

Q. A couple Kapalua questions for you. First one, after your history here, how important was your win in the Mercedes last year?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, it was an important win because I've been there quite a few years and came very close a few times. I hadn't won, and it kind of got my head a little bit all messed up. I had chances to win and just blew it a few times.
I wanted to win just to prove that I can win in Kapalua. I love Hawaii. It's my favorite place in the world. You know, it just made it a great, great season when you win so early in the season like that. I was really happy with that.

Q. And my second question, you do come here every year. What does this place mean to you personally, and how well does it fit your game?
VIJAY SINGH: Well, Kapalua itself, it's a great place. You know, the views, the people, the air, the temperature is just perfect, just like playing golf in my home country. I love Hawaii, like I said.
The golf course itself is very different. You need to know where to hit it and you have to know how to play the wind. That was a big factor last year with the wind blowing so strong for all four days. You just had to manage the right way.
But I love Hawaii. I have a place in Hawaii -- not a house, but I have a piece of property that one day I'm going to build on it, and that's the place I want to settle down. In that way coming to Hawaii makes me feel really, really comfortable.

Q. A year later what are your impressions of the FedExCup?
VIJAY SINGH: You know, good and kind of not so good. I think the emphasis was too much on FedEx for the whole year, and once the FedExCup finished, it was kind of like just -- it was wiped out. It was back to the Money List.
I think they have to do a little bit more adjustments to the points and maybe make the Money List count a little bit, as well. The point system is great, but it should continue until the end of the season. We should actually see that at the end of the season and not just the FedExCup points, the points disappear and the Money List comes back up again.
I don't think that's right, but the TOUR is doing -- I think it was a success. The TOUR, it was a trial-and-error thing, and it worked. They're going to tweak it, and every time they tweak it I'm sure they'll tweak it for the better, and that's all it's about. It's improving, and I'm sure this year will be better than last year.

Q. A couple quick ones for you. You mentioned early on winning at Kapalua or winning out in Hawaii was a great way to start the season, but you finished the season, you had two wins, a second place, a bunch of Top 10s. I wonder if you could just kind of talk about last season. Two wins for most people is a pretty good year. For you the standard that you generally like, that might not be such a good year. I wonder if you could talk about that and what your expectations are this year versus last year.
VIJAY SINGH: The two wins happened very early in the season, I think the first three months of the season. After winning the first two, the rest of the season was pretty cold for me. I mean, after The Masters you have the whole season to play, and I did not perform like I thought I would. I had my chances but just never closed the deal. In that way it was very disappointing.
I know guys go through their whole career not winning one event. In one way my expectations are pretty high. I don't like playing six months of the year and not winning a golf tournament. That was the downfall. I felt like I let myself down there.
So this year I've changed my golf swing a little bit and just taken my physical condition to a different level. I want to start off the season -- if I can start the same way it would be great, and just maintain it, maintain playing well. Every time I tee it up I want to be able to compete, and that's my goal.

Q. A little bit on the lighter side, you said you've been jumping a lot of rope and working with Jeffrey who worked with wide receivers and such. You said boxers jump rope a lot. Would you be a better boxer or wide receiver?
VIJAY SINGH: I said Jeffrey worked with wide receivers (laughter). I don't know, I'd go with the boxer side.

Q. That's more your speed?
VIJAY SINGH: Yeah (laughing).
DOUG MILNE: Vijay, as always, we appreciate your time, and thank you, everyone else.

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