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August 10, 2005

Vijay Singh


JULIUS MASON: Vijay Singh joining us at the 87th PGA Championship. Vijay is our defending champion. He's a two time PGA Champion.

Vijay, welcome to Baltusrol. Did you have fun last night at the Champions Dinner?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, my second job I think is going to be emcee if anybody wants to have me. I think I did a great job (laughter). No, it was great, and the food was the highlight of the night. I think everybody enjoyed the food, and I guess the gifts were pretty good, as well. I think everybody enjoyed the dinner.

JULIUS MASON: Good job. Thank you. Questions, folks.

Q. What was the food?

VIJAY SINGH: The food, I really don't remember just kidding. It was Thai food; it was done by my friend Charlie and his wife, Nan. They have two restaurants in Atlanta and it was pretty good.

Q. We heard something about some good wine, too.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, we had two bottles of wine, one was Insignia, Joseph Phelps and the other one was Far Niente. We have a menu here if you want to order it when you get to Atlanta.

The gift for the players was Fenwick rods, and I thought I'd give something that everybody would be able to do, and fishing, a lot of players love fishing and I thought it was a great gift, and a one year subscription of Bass Master Magazine (laughter). Actually, the Fenwick shaft was actually tested by NASA, in the shuttle that just flew over two days ago. I think it came in that, as well. So it's the only one of its kind. I thought I would mention that (laughter).

And the ladies got some silk robes, I think it was Thai silk, and I think it was a really nice gift.

Talk about some golf now, right (laughter).

Q. At Pinehurst you were very explicit in telling us what you thought about how the tournament that was held there is set up. How do you like the way the PGA is set up? How does it differ from the U.S. Open and what makes the PGA distinct in your mind?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the PGA is a very test fair test of golf. They do not trick the golf course up. It's right in front of you. The roughs are long, even the pin placements are not going to be to the extreme. They will be very tough but it's always been very playable. I think the USGA takes it to the limit or sometimes beyond it, or most of the time beyond it.

I think the PGA is always one step behind taking it to the edge, and I guess a lot of guys enjoy playing the PGA better than the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open, because of its name and prestige, I think, you know, it's right up there, but the golf course, setup wise, I think the PGA is far better to we enjoy playing it. It's tough, it's a stern test of golf, but at the same time, it's very, very fair.

Q. Was there any added significance in the way you played at Buick open considering how well you played against Tiger in the third round, or did you just kind of write that off as another good round, a fourth good performance?

VIJAY SINGH: No, I think it was everything to do with my putter. I had this I used the putter for the first time last week, or two weeks ago, and the ball just started going in. I was playing pretty decent. I've been playing pretty decent golf for a while, but once the ball starts to find the hole, you know, I'm going to play well. It surprised me there for a while when I saw all of those balls going in, as well, but I made a lot of putts. I led the putts in regulation that week, and when I do that, I did play very well, the front nine there, I hit a lot of good shots, and a lot of good shots close, as well, and you have to finish off making the putts and I did that.

Q. Any added bonus that you played that well head to head with Tiger?

VIJAY SINGH: Obviously, I was fired up to play with Tiger, but, you know, the start I thought was you know, that's the kind of start you want playing with anybody. I birdied the first three holes and then, you know, shooting 29 on the front side playing with Tiger or playing with anybody, I mean, it's going to do the job. But I wasn't pressured at all. I just went out there and tried to enjoy the game and play golf.

Q. This is a muscle course, if you will; it's long, narrow fairways and back to back par 5s on the finish. Could you just talk a little bit about the difference in playing a course like this, and everybody is talking about how you and Tiger and all of the longer hitters are going to have a huge advantage here.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, this is a long golf course, but I think it's you know, I played with Tom Pernice, who is not one of the longer hitters out there, and I mean, sure, you've got two par 4s that are really long, close to 500 well, two of them are 500 plus, and the other two is 490.

The golf course is drying out a little bit and the roughs are playable. The roughs are not impossible to get to the greens with. I didn't hit every fairway yesterday and neither did my partner. They were comfortable getting on the greens from the rough. The rough is very, very deep but it's playable. You can get unlucky and not get to the greens. The greens are so big over here, they are probably some of the biggest greens the PGA has ever had, and it's not difficult to hit the greens from wherever you are, but to get close to the pins is another factor.

So you can be hitting long irons from the fairway. I mean, if I'm hitting a 6 iron, the shorter hitters are going to be hitting 3 iron; they are probably going to be hitting a 4 iron or a 3 iron. The greens are very receptive and they are holding shots from whatever you hit.

Yeah, it is long and it favors the longer hitters, but I don't think it favors that much. I think it's going to favor whoever putts well this week is going to have a good chance. You've got to hit the fairway but at the same time, you've got to putt well. This is going to be, the guy who putts well is going to win the golf tournament right here.

Q. What sort of total do you think it will take to win, roughly?

VIJAY SINGH: You know when I came here for the media day, I thought, you know, I figured 8 under, 6 under was going to win the golf tournament. You know, going out there, it's definitely going to be double digits. I would say 15 , 14 under is going to win the golf tournament, unless the wind blows or the speed of the greens are going to get much faster. It's not going to play anymore difficult than what it is right now, and I think it's very fair, and if you play good golf you can make a lot of birdies out there.

Q. The wine you were referring to before, did you bring any for us?

VIJAY SINGH: I brought a lot, you can pay for it (laughter).

Q. What did Jack just say to you?

VIJAY SINGH: That's between Jack and me.

Q. Somewhat of a follow up to her question, it was suggested to Jack by one of the questioners that maybe only 10 to 15 guys could win here, the 10 to 15 longest hitters. I guess, I sense from your answer a couple of questions ago that perhaps you think a few more guys can win this tournament, even though it's such a long course?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, I would say it's the other way around. I think 10 or 15 guys out there that may not be able to win the golf tournament.

Everybody out there right now is hitting the ball a long ways. The average distance has increased. So I really don't think a guy out there thinks that this is a golf course where you're going to be hitting irons all day the par 3s, I don't know what the prevailing wind; but the wind that is blowing right now, all of the par 3s, the maximum club I hit was a 4 iron on a par 3, and I'm not one of the longer iron players on TOUR.

There are guys that hit it much stronger than me. Parnevik is a lot longer than me and he was hitting 6 irons and 5 irons to the par 3s and I was hitting 4 irons. I think pretty much everybody out here has a good chance of winning the golf tournament if they play well. Sure, it favors the long hitters if they hit it in the fairways more, but anybody that plays well this week has got a chance.

Q. I've often heard you described as shy. What made you a good emcee and what kind of emcee were you?

VIJAY SINGH: I was joking about I did a good job. I think I screwed up (laughter).

I was okay. You know, I wouldn't take that as a job, no. No, thank you. I'd do something else. I make people laugh, that's about all, I guess.

Q. Besides the fact that they are both 18 holes, are there any similarities at all between Whistling Straits last year and this course? And do you appreciate the fact that the PGA is willing to mix in some new venues with some of the older, classic courses like this one?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I don't think it's that much similarity between this one. Whistling Straits was a long golf course. This one is pretty decently long, as well. I think the PGA is taking to new venues. It's good to have variety. Right now, the older style of golf courses are not as long anymore, and the newer golf courses, they are able to design it in a way that is going to play to the modern technology, the length of it. I think that's only fair that we go to new venues where it's playable and long enough to challenge the players nowadays. So I think that's really good what they are doing.

Q. You described somewhat humbly your play as being decent recently. Over the last couple of years, would you say there's been anybody that's played better than you over that stretch?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, Tiger obviously has played good enough ever since he turned pro. He's never been out of it. Ernie and the top guys have been playing pretty much the way I've been playing. Obviously I've won quite a lot more tournaments, but I play a lot more tournaments than the rest of the guys, so I have more chances of winning.

Sure, I mean, I'm playing I feel right now I'm playing the best golf I've ever played. To me I'm playing a lot better this year than I've done last year. I'm more consistent than I was last year. I'm driving the ball much straighter and probably further than I did last year. I'm on the same track as last year, I don't know if I'm going to do the same thing or not, but you know, I just have to focus on this week and see if I can pull this one off and go from there.

I'm definitely feeling good about my game, and, you know, I just hope that if I putt like I did two weeks ago, you know, one never knows what I'm going to achieve this year, but right now I'm really confident with the way I'm putting, and I think that's the key to my golf game is if I start making putts, then I'm going to have a good chance of winning tournaments.

Q. You've closed out tournaments very well over the course of your career, especially the last couple of years. Tiger yesterday spoke about his approach to the game, that he views this as a sport; he goes at it as an athlete and he trains that way and I know you do, too. To what extent has that helped you, especially later in golf tournaments, and majors in particular, because of the demands they put on players? Your training, physical regimen, how much has that helped you, especially late in tournaments?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know if it's late in the tournament. I think it's the whole mindset. If you are physically strong, you know, I train a lot at home and I do on Tour. I drive myself, I tell myself, what am I doing this for; this is to really get to the top. This is to maintain what I'm doing. And when I get on the site, I feel really strong. I feel like I'm in control of the situation, and that's more important than going out there and trying to find something. I feel like when I arrive at the golf tournament, I'm ready to win golf tournaments.

The physical side is a big factor. It gives you a lot more confidence physically; at the same time, mentally. I think if you're strong physically, it's going to help your mental side. I think that's the key to my success right now is I'm physically fit and I think I'm mentally very positive.

Q. Just to follow up, Tiger said yesterday that he has a healthy amount of respect for you given what you've done and where you came from. Would you say also that you have a fair amount of respect for what Tiger has achieved? I mean, much has been made that you guys don't dine together, what have you, but I know as competitors, it might be different. Would you say you have a fair amount of respect for Tiger?

VIJAY SINGH: Sure. Who doesn't? He's the best player in the golf game right now. He's been like that for a while. Gosh, if you don't have respect for what he has done, then, you know, you're not thinking right. He's been the best player and he's proven it over and over again. I just think he's a great golfer.

We don't go to dinner together. You know, I don't go to dinner together with 95 percent of the guys on Tour or maybe 99 percent of the guys on Tour. So why single Tiger out? I never have had a drink with Phil Mickelson. Why don't anyone talk about that (laughter)? For that matter, Retief or whoever. Don't make a big deal out of nothing.

Q. There's only four players that have won this tournament more than twice. If you win this year, you'll join Sarazen and Snead as players that have won this three times. What does that mean to you?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, they talked to me that I was the first guy to win it three times. I'm not really thinking about that. I mean, if I win it, it's going to be one hell of an achievement, but at the moment, I'm just really focused to go out there and try to play the best I can. If I win, that will be great. You know, I'll be over the moon if I do win it and get into that category as the rest of the guys. But I cannot I cannot look ahead. I've got to be in the present, and the present is I'm going to go out there and try to do my best and see if I can win the golf tournament.

Q. Despite your stellar play from the beginning of 2004 to now, at times there could seem to be a hesitation by the public to embrace you. What do you think your relationship is with the public, and how much do you even care?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I don't know what I need to do to win you guys. I'm not going to beg. I'm not the guy to go down there and get on my knees and say, hey, write good things about me. I'm not going to do that.

I have not done anything to not win your confidence. I'm a player, I'm an athlete, I go out there to play golf tournaments and I speak my mind out and I'm very honest about it. I'm not a fake like many guys out there. So you write whatever you want to write, but write what I say, don't mix things over. And that's the way I am. I do not say things to please you guys. I do not do that. I say what I want to say, which is right in my mind, and that's the way I am, that's the way I always will be, and I think that's the best way to be.

Q. Have you made a final decision about whether you want to go into the Hall of Fame this year or defer it to next year?

VIJAY SINGH: I will be in Asia at that time. I tried to get them to change the dates, but, you know, there's so many things involved in it. It's unfortunate that I'm not going to be, but I'm definitely going to be here next year to do that, so yes.

Q. Secondly, what kind of Presidents Cup team do you think you guys are going to have without Ernie? Do you think there are enough good players that were like below 10 and 15 on the international side of it to where you guys are still going to be more than competitive?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, Ernie is a great, great player. Every player on the team is going to miss Ernie. I, for one, because he's played a lot of team matches with me. But we've not had a good record. I mean, Ernie does not have a great Presidents Cup record. I do not, either. So in that respect, yeah, will it make a big difference? I think his presence, not being there is going to make a big difference.

But there are guys on the team that are playing really good golf right now. I'm sure we'll miss him on the team, but we'll make do. We have a strong enough team, strong enough players I think to make a difference out there. We have a good chance of winning the Cup; with or without Ernie we have a great chance.

Q. This season touted as a clash between the Big Four and Big Five in the majors, and could you have envisioned in the beginning of the season that Tiger has dominated so much in the majors?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, he's won two events and second in the other one, so there's huge points when you win majors and he's won the right events. For instance, last two weeks ago, I won the golf tournament but I lost points over Tiger. So it just so happens you've got to win the right events.

You know, the Big Four, the Big Five, gosh, it should be a Big Ten out there, because anybody any given day can go out there and win golf tournaments. Consistently wise, Tiger and myself, Ernie and Phil, Retief for that matter, we've been very g consistent in our game and that's why we show up on top all the time.

Q. Do you feel underappreciated?

VIJAY SINGH: In my mind, no. I'm not really concerned about how you guys feel about that, but in my mind, I feel like I've achieved. I've done what I need to do, and, you know, I have to worry about what I feel and not about what other people feels. And I feel great about my game, myself, and what I have done. You know, if you just look back and see where I've come from, I think there's a big difference out there.

JULIUS MASON: Defending champion, Vijay Singh, folks. Thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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