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September 14, 2005

Vijay Singh


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Defending champion of the 84 Lumber Classic, Vijay Singh. Thanks for joining us. You've had a great year this year, four wins. We can just start with some opening comments about coming back and defending your title here in Pennsylvania.

VIJAY SINGH: I always like coming back here. The hospitality is second to none, and the Hardys really know how to spoil the players. It's one of my favorite spots now, and I think most of the guys feel the same way.

The golf course is I think in better shape than last year. The greens are from last year it's playing like it's been here forever. It's in great shape. It's firm, but it's every green is hard and fast, and the whole the roughs are very uniform and they play really consistent, and the fairways are very generous, but they narrowed it from last year. So the golf course is in absolutely perfect condition, and I'm just looking forward to starting tomorrow.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Talk about next week, as well, playing The Presidents Cup. I know that's an important event for you.

VIJAY SINGH: You kind of think about the Presidents Cup, but you don't really think about it that much. Right now I'm not concerned about that at all. I mean, surely you wonder who you're going to play with and who's the best teammate that you're going to have out there or what's the best combination, but this week my focus is right here.

Q. What does it mean to you coming up here to the resort?

VIJAY SINGH: What kind of question is that (laughter)? What does it mean? I mean, it's a golf tournament. It's a great golf event. Coming up here and trying to defend is my main priority. I like playing golf tournaments, I like winning golf tournaments, and this is one of them I'd like to defend if I can.

Q. How did your back hold up this week and what did you think of your statue?

VIJAY SINGH: My back is fine. It was a little concerning last week how it was going to be, but it turned out better than I thought, and this week it's a lot better than last week. I'm feeling good, and there's no problem about my golf swing with my back, so there's no excuse.

My statue, it looks okay. There's probably a flaw with the design, but I think they're going to sort that out later on.

Q. Can you compare what this year has been like for you compared to last year? Did you think it was going to be hard to duplicate what you did last year, and just as long as you won a few tournaments you would be happy?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I thought I played better this year, or I'm playing better this year. The PGA and NEC and maybe a week before that, my driver kind of went a little south, but I seem to have sorted out the problem.

But playing wise, I had a lot of opportunities to win, all the majors I was right in there to win. I just didn't take the I think the edge was a little less than last year. I'm playing better this year. I think the scoring part, you know, the putting part didn't show up at the right time, and I just made a few mistakes at the wrong time, and last year I wasn't doing that.

Ball striking wise, I'm hitting it as good as I can. Maybe I played too much, who knows. Sometimes you have to back off and have a look at what's going on. I thought this back injury was going to put me out for a while. Maybe it was a good chance to really think over what I was doing wrong.

But one week and I couldn't wait to come back here. It was the wrong time to have a back injury because I wanted to defend so badly in Boston and Canada. I'm quite satisfied with my season so far. I'd like to win one or two more before the season ends, but my thoughts right now is to finish this season strong and really come out firing next year.

I'm not going to do much end of the season. I'm going to take a few weeks to travel, but besides that, I'm going to really shape up and see what I can do for next year.

Q. How long can you play at this level? You've obviously achieved more in your 40s than most golfers have throughout time. Is it going to require scaling back your schedule a little bit in the future years?

VIJAY SINGH: I think discipline is what I need. I need to keep going with my physical side. Sometimes when you start playing well, you think you don't need to work so hard. I stopped hitting as much balls as I used to, go to the range and get a couple of hours of practice, not necessarily hitting balls that long but an hour hitting balls and chipping and putting and that's it. But I used to do a lot more than that.

Maybe I should go back and start doing that and do a lot more workouts, different kind of workouts. We started to do that, Joey and myself, but the schedule for next year probably will remain the same, maybe a little less, a couple of tournaments here and there. But I like to play, and I just need to be physically in a little bit better shape than I am this year.

Q. Are you saying that you're not spending as much time on the range now as you did last year or other years?

VIJAY SINGH: No, I'm not working as hard it's difficult when you're playing so well. You think you've got it and you don't want to go out there and just hitting good shots until you start hitting bad and find out that you're swinging badly. My theory was when you go out to the range and start hitting good shots, you should not hit any more. I was too worried to go out there and stay long enough where I'm going to start hitting bad shots, so that part kind of slowed me down some.

There's a lot of things you can work on in the golf game, my short game, putting and all those, and I worked a lot harder on my short game last year than I did this year, so that part I should step up a little bit. It shows when you do the statistics; my short game is not as good as it was last year.

Q. What do you think about the length of the PGA TOUR season, and what could possibly be added to people's interests after the PGA Championship and when football season gets started?

VIJAY SINGH: You're not asking the right person that question (laughing). I think the Commissioner is trying to do something about it. I think the 2007 schedule is going to be a little different, I think. That's yet to be determined.

They are doing a lot of other things. They want to come up with some sort of finale which every other sport has but the golf season, and the TOUR Championship is supposed to be our final event on the Tour, but it doesn't play like the World Series does or the playoffs. They want to do something like that for the TV and for the interest of the public, as well. They're trying to do that, and I think they have some ideas, and I guess you'll just have to wait until next year to find out.

Q. Could you comment specifically on the changes to No. 12, maybe 16?

VIJAY SINGH: 16 is fine. You know, the water on the left side is closer. 16 is a short par 5 where you need a decent second shot.

The 12th, I played it today and yesterday. It's okay. It's a great hole if maybe it was a few yards shorter. Today I hit a 6 iron, and that was stretching it, into the wind. And the greens are very firm, so you need to know exactly where to pitch it. The landing area in front of the green is so small, you've got no more than eight, seven yards to land your ball, and both sides are trouble. So the guys are going to find that a little bit more a little bit severe to deal with. Actually give it time and it's going to be a good hole.

Q. Can you comment on the strength of the field this weekend in particular, and Jason Gore?

VIJAY SINGH: The strength is pretty good. I think it's the best field we've had ever since they started here. The field strength is good to see, Allenby and Appleby, DiMarco here, so the field is pretty strong. I think the tournament organizers are pretty happy with the field, and the way they've treated the players, I think it's only going to get stronger in the future.

Jason Gore, I mean, I don't know much about him. All I know is he's won three events in the Nationwide, and he had a good chance to win the U.S. Open. He hits the ball a long ways and he's got a great smile (laughter).

Q. In terms of the Presidents Cup, is that an event that the players like to play or they feel that they owe it to the Tour to play? I know there's been issues about the Ryder Cup over the years. It's never gotten to that point with the Presidents Cup.

VIJAY SINGH: I think all the Tours around the world run The Presidents Cup. It's not the PGA TOUR. PGA of America runs the Ryder Cup. This is strictly run by the Tours. I can only speak for myself.

You know, I look forward to playing it. If I wasn't on the team, maybe I would be really pissed off about not getting on the team, but I've been on the team ever since it was played, so I'm kind of a little spoiled in that way, that I've been able to get on the team.

I don't think about it before, weeks and months before, but when it comes to really a week or two before the tournament, like this week I'm trying to figure out who I'm going to play with, and during the tournament itself, The Presidents Cup, it's pretty nerve wracking. You have a different kind of pressure than you have playing over here. It's pretty much like playing the last day of a major event where there's a lot of pressure, you don't want to disappoint yourself and particularly anybody else. In the Presidents Cup you don't want to disappoint your teammates.

I find that a little bit more nerve wracking than playing myself.

I think the players during the week of the Presidents Cup and maybe the week prior, they're all fired up to play. But we don't think about it a month before, and two weeks after you've forgotten about it.

And the guys we play with in the Presidents Cup, we play every week with, so it's different than the Ryder Cup. It's becoming different now because most of the players are playing here. I've played with Phil, played with Tiger every week. I'm just going to try to go out there and beat them in the Presidents Cup. It's a match play instead of stroke play, so that's a big difference.

Q. Can I follow up on that? With Ernie not being there this year, do you feel like you have to take even a bigger leadership role, or would you have taken it anyway?

VIJAY SINGH: It's really odd because, sure, I mean, I'm probably the strongest player on the team. But at the same time, the captain runs the whole team, and he actually is the force behind everything else, and Gary Player, his enthusiasm like he's had in the past with his own game, he's a good leader, and we kind of sit back and take a back seat when he's up there, and we can speak about who we'd like to play with, and he doesn't want to sit any of the top guys out. He thinks that we should go out there and play.

But with Ernie, I mean, first of all, we're very disappointed he's not on the team. He's a big loss to the team, I think, and he's very intimidating. Even if he's not playing well, you put him up against another player, he's got his name right there and you know who he is and what he's capable of doing. That part of it we're going to miss. I'm sure we're going to deal with it, and hopefully we can deal the best we can.

Q. As you're playing this week, are you thinking about or trying to work on anything for next week, or are you just concentrating solely here?

VIJAY SINGH: No, next week will be next week. If I play well this week, it's going to be a big advantage for me going into next week. That way I'm going to have a lot more confidence. But I'm playing good enough and working on little bits and pieces here that if this comes together it'll be good for next week.

Q. You seem very even tempered out there. When was the last time you heaved a club? Have you ever thrown one, been so frustrated?

VIJAY SINGH: I've done it many times in my head (laughter). Physically I don't think so. I don't know, I do it on the driving range a lot. I don't throw the club because you've got to go out and pick it up again (laughter).

Q. Is it a release for you, though? Like when you deal with it, how do you deal with a frustrating moment?

VIJAY SINGH: You just go on and I don't know, I get more disappointed when I hit a bad shot with myself. It's more embarrassing that if you miss a shot, "Man, what are you doing," the thing of getting a little pissed off. I get more angry missing a putt, if I hit a bad putt or made a mistake with a putt. Probably the longer shots, it does not affect me as it does a lot of other players.

Q. Other players talk about how your personality comes out in the locker room or in the workout room and how you're good natured, joking, and you have sort of a side of your personality that maybe the public doesn't see that much. How much different is your personality among fellow Tour players?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I'm not the right one to comment I don't think. You see myself like I see you guys over here, very serious. I don't know how you guys are when you go outside, laugh and joke; pretty much the same as me. I take my job very seriously and I'm sure you all do, too. Whenever you see me, you see me at my most intense, which is on the golf course or in the press tent when I come off of the golf course.

I don't know, you'll just have to follow me around and decide for yourself (laughter).

Q. Joe Hardy and Maggie have announced this very ambitious fund raiser for Katrina. Are you aware whether the players are doing anything collectively to match that, or are you doing something individually?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the Tour is doing something, and all the donations we do are going through the Tour itself. I think the Tour is matching whatever we do, and I think it's great what the Hardys are doing over here. It's incredible, the disaster that happened back in New Orleans. We're doing the best we can, and any little thing we can help out is going to go a long ways.

But it's good that we're doing something. The charity for the Tour is big, and I think the Tour is doing the right thing and also the Hardys.

Q. There was a story recently comparing you and saying that you were a modern day Hogan in terms of work ethic, maybe personality and obviously success. I mean, is that a comparison that you have thought about over the years, or is it somebody just in terms of reading up on him thought there was some similarities?

VIJAY SINGH: Hogan is a legend, and he's been known whenever you talk about Hogan, they call him The Hawk because of his looks and his stare, and the way he practiced was incredible, as well.

You know, I never had a chance to actually see him hit the ball, but I've seen a lot of footage of him practicing and how intense he was. In that sense, I've taken a lot of notes on how he practiced and what he did, and he liked to be totally alone when he worked out and did his practice. Those are the pointers that I've taken from him.

You know, I can only be myself. I admire the guy; he was incredible. You hear a lot of stories about him, stories that he shot 64, 63 and he was out there practicing until dark and somebody came up to him, "What are you doing; you just shot the course record?" He says, "I could have shot a few shots less." Those are the things that you take and you remember them, and you say that's a great champion there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Vijay Singh, thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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