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June 1, 2005

Vijay Singh


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay, for joining us for a few minutes here in the media center here at The Memorial Tournament. You've had two opportunities to play this week, and from the last couple tournaments you've continued your track of great play. Why don't you just talk about the week ahead and what it looks like for yourself.

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, I think the golf course is in great shape. Hopefully the rain keeps away because the golf course could not be in better condition. One or two changes is the 10th hole. I think it's a better hole now than it was last time. I was always very uncomfortable playing off the old 10th, but now it's much longer but much better to play off, and the 9th as well. I think it's a much better golf hole.

The greens are nice, playing pretty decent, I think. But I lost today, if that makes a difference (laughing).

I'm looking forward to the week. I think the conditions like this, if the weather stays good, we're going to have a great tournament.

Q. Who did you lose to?

VIJAY SINGH: Azinger. How about that? I lost dinner to him.

Q. Do you like the fact that you now have this stretch coming up where you're playing what I would say next week, as well, playing three really quality courses? Does that really get your juices flowing?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. The next five weeks we're playing great golf courses, Westchester and Cog Hill, I think they're all pretty good golf courses. We all really enjoy playing good golf courses. For instance, Congressional, I think we've got a great field for Congressional. When they went back to Avenel, nobody wants to play Avenel. I think we're all looking forward to the next three weeks, or the next five weeks anyway.

Q. In your estimation, what do you think is the part of your game that's most crucial to play this course well? There's been guys known as long hitters that have won here, guys like Hale Irwin and Furyk who have won here. What do you think is most important?

VIJAY SINGH: You've got to putt well here. You can drive the ball, you can get away with driving not so great because the fairways are pretty generous. In the past it's been very wet, so I think long hitters have been favored. But if it gets a little dryer like it's supposed to, if the rain keeps away, I think anyone who hits it straight has got a good chance of playing well here.

You still have to get it on the green and putt well. Ernie had 100 putts last year. If Ernie has 100 putts, who's going to beat him? Hardly anyone can beat him.

So that's important. You need to putt well here. Obviously you need to hit it on the correct side of the greens and drive the ball well, but it comes down to putting.

Q. The Open last year at Shinnecock, the setup obviously came under a great amount of criticism. Do you blame the USGA for that or do you feel confident that they can set up Pinehurst the way it ought to be set up?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, who else is to blame? They set it up. Anybody that loses a golf course are to blame, and they have enough manpower out there enough to lose a golf course. I thought it was ridiculous playing there the last day. If they do the same thing at Pinehurst, they should I don't know what should be done because Pinehurst is a great golf course. So was Shinnecock. They don't really do justice to a great golf course if they set the golf course up like they did in Shinnecock, and there's no real necessity to do that. I did not enjoy playing the weekend there, and if they do the same thing at Pinehurst, I'd rather not play the golf course that way than go out there and make a fool of myself.

I think they've learned. I think there's enough noise that's been made by players that they've learned. I think they've learned from their mistakes, and we'll find out. We've got two weeks to figure that one out.

Q. When golf fans think of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, I think they think a lot about Payne Stewart. Do you have any special memories of him and the tournament in 1999, anything special you remember about him?

VIJAY SINGH: What I remember was him making that putt on the last hole. I think that stays in your mind forever. When you think of Pinehurst, the U.S. Open, Payne Stewart making that last putt, hugging his caddie, I think that sticks in everyone's mind.

When we go there I think what we'll remember the most is that one last hole.

Q. Where were you when that happened?

VIJAY SINGH: I was in the scorer's tent. I think I was two shots back at that time. I didn't have a chance of winning but I was pretty eager to see who was going to win at that time.

Q. Do you think the U.S. Open is the hardest of the majors to win and maybe it's the most coveted among the players in your mind, and why is that?

VIJAY SINGH: It's the Open Championship for the U.S. I mean, it's a big event. I think it's one of the best events we play in. The setup is probably the hardest to deal with.

But at the same time it's not the most enjoyable one, you know. It's hard work, a hard week. You tend to enjoy the first two days all the time. Pinehurst when Payne won, nobody really remembers why it played so fair the last day, because it rained all morning. So they couldn't get it the way they wanted to. Shinnecock was dry, they knew the weather was going to be hot and dry, so they lost the golf course.

U.S. Open, I'd love to win that. I suppose that would be one of the harder ones to win. You've got to drive the ball well, putt well, chip well, as well, so the whole game has to be good, and at the same time you've got to be lucky, as well.

Q. How much do you think the mental part of golf separates an elite player like yourself and other guys on the Tour who are trying to break into that group?

VIJAY SINGH: I think it's a lot to do with mental. Going out there and playing golf not at your best thinking that you can pull off a shot is a lot better than going out there knowing that you're going to hit a bad shot. I think right now if I go out there and I'm not playing my best, I can deal with the bad shots much more better than I used to. If a young kid goes out there and hits a bad shot, it's the end of the world, the next few holes.

I think the experienced players are able to fix their golf swing as the round goes on. If I make a mistake early on, I can figure out what I need to do to fix that. I think mentally that's very important, that you know that I can fix a golf game, a golf swing by the time you make the turn.

Q. Following that up, when you're playing a golf course on which you've already won, does that make you feel more confident coming into a tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I mean, I love this golf course. It sets up for me. I've had a lot of success here. Mentally you feel like you can perform well on a golf course like this and win, so if your game is on, I mean, you just go out there and play, and that's the most important part is just go out and play and let your golf game happen, let it happen, let the scores come in. That's what I'm going to do this week.

Q. Preparing for a tournament like Pinehurst, for a U.S. Open, how much is it are you just focusing on what you do well versus "I have to prepare these types of shots for this golf course"?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I tried to do that the last two years, prepare for each golf course. If it's a U.S. Open you've got to prepare that way and if it's The Masters you've got to prepare a certain way, same with the British Open. I think I've got to do what I do when I play a normal golf tournament. You go up and you have three days to practice and you just make plans and make adjustments as you go by. I think when you prepare too much too early, you're too focused on that one thing, and if it doesn't happen, you get disappointed in it. I think I'm going to show up at Pinehurst on Monday and deal with the elements as they come. If I need to adjust my golf swing or the shots that I need to do, take a club out or that's what I'm going to do.

I'm not going to prepare specifically for Pinehurst. This week I'm going to try to do different shots or play shots and feel what kind of shots I'm hitting, and if that's the right shot for Pinehurst, then next week, as well, but not really prepare for one game plan.

Q. You've putted with a variety of different length putters, different grips. You've kind of covered the whole range. What have you learned about what works for you putting and why it works for you?

VIJAY SINGH: Bottom line is what feels comfortable. I've stuck with this way of putting I think it's almost a year now, and I'm very comfortable with the putter. I'm not fighting with aligning or hitting putts. I have a different way of putting now. I've always practiced from six foot in or eight foot in and that's my practice. If you see me on the putting green, I would never go outside of six or eight feet. I'm on track and I keep putting that way. But if I start feeling uncomfortable then I'll probably change. I've got a few backups right now. I can go cross handed, and if that doesn't work I'll probably fall back to the belly putter.

Right now I'm very comfortable with my putts. I'm not fighting my putting stroke right now, and that's a good feeling to have.

Q. What was the trip to Fiji like, and do you almost wish you had gone back sooner?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it was a good trip. I hadn't been back in some seven years. I saw a beautiful golf site that any architect would die to have. Fortunately it's me. I think I did a good job, two days of walking around the golf course or the golf site, and it was fun. It was a long time coming, and I'm glad I made the trip. It was a good trip home.

Q. Was it close to your home?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it was right on well, Fiji is so small, every part of my Fiji is my home (laughter). It was fun, yeah. It was not far away. We actually have to land not far away from where I live.

Q. I don't think you were one of the vocal critics about the schedule and playing in certain events at the early part of the year, but now there's a lot of discussion about maybe six or seven events may go, the fall may be completely different, moving THE PLAYERS Championship, moving the TOUR Championship. You play a lot of events. Does that concern you, does that affect you in your plans do you think?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's really up to the Tour. I think they're trying to change the schedule because they want to make it more exciting. Every other sport has a finale, and everybody is excited about it. You've got the Super Bowl, playoffs, but golf does not have that. That's probably why they're changing the schedule or may change the schedule. But I think it's pretty unfair if they remove golf tournaments from locations where people are looking forward to having a golf tournament. I don't know, I just think the charitable events, things that goes on in that one town or one city that's hosting the golf tournament, I think it's very unfair for them.

I don't think they're just going to change it; I think they're going to look into it. I don't think there's anything wrong with the schedule right now.

Q. Have you had any input or discussion with the Tour?

VIJAY SINGH: Off and on, yes and no, but nothing really substantial where they've really listened to me yet. I think they're discussing it. I'm not sure if they have really come up with a plan. I think it's all under discussion.

Q. If you're thinking about designing a course, what makes a great par 3, a great par 4, a great par 5?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I think you've got to be able to play the golf course difficult from all tees and able to enjoy it at the same time. I'm a very traditionalist type of designer. I look back at the great golf courses that I've played and look at great holes, what makes a good hole, what makes not such a good hole. I kind of design it that way.

On a golf course you've got to be able to give different choices to play, a risk reward kind of thing on par 5s. It really has a lot to do with how you set up the whole golf course, not one or two particular holes. If I start discussing that, it's going to be talk about that to Jack Nicklaus because he's done a million golf courses. This is my second or third golf course, so I'm just starting out.

But my way of designing a golf course would be more traditional and not something like Pete Dye would do.

Q. You mentioned the Super Bowl there. Did you know Mike Vrabel before you played with him in the Pro Am yesterday, know of him? What was it like playing with him?

VIJAY SINGH: I think my caddie was more excited because he follows football more than me. Yeah, I know that he catches he can play the receiver when he wants to. He caught some touchdowns in the Super Bowl, and he's got three rings, so that's more than most guys have ever been in one, so that's great.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay, for joining us.

End of FastScripts.

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