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January 16, 2005

Vijay Singh


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome Vijay Singh, winner of the 2005 Sony Open in Hawaii.

Vijay, you let one go last week but got it back this week it looks like.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I mean, I was pretty disappointed about last week's finish. I came over here, I didn't know what I was going to expect and that was really -- my best finish was fourth I think.


VIJAY SINGH: T-8? So there you go.

So I didn't know what to expect, but I was playing pretty solid. I was hitting a lot of good shots and I just hung in there and that was the key. I knew the scores were not going to go that low because the way the wind was blowing. The start of the day I told my caddie, "I think 12-under is going to win the golf tournament," and that was my target. I thought I was going to come up short, but I think 11 was just fine.

TODD BUDNICK: Talk about your solid play, rounds of 69, 68, 67, 65, better each day, and I think everybody above you played over par today. So you had a nice opening there when you shot 65.

VIJAY SINGH: That's true. I didn't know how the rest of the guys were going to do. I knew what Ernie finished and I knew that was the mark to catch. I heard the roar on the 12th hole and I said, "Well, he must have made eagle," and the scores came up on the board immediately after. I had six holes to go, and I said I need a birdie, without a bogey I think I can win it. 18th, I played it 1-over coming into today and I hit a great drive there. That set me up.

TODD BUDNICK: Your eighth consecutive Top-10. You had a streak of 12 last year, the consistent play just keeps coming, no end to it, it seems.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, I did take some time off, but during those time off, I still practiced a lot and I was working on things that I thought I needed to fix and I felt very comfortable.

The driver issue was a little bit of a problem last week, and coming into this week, but I think I sorted that one out pretty good. And I'm just looking forward to the rest of the reason. I know next week is going to be a big field, and that golf course has not been the best for me, but I'm going to go out there and fix that.

TODD BUDNICK: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. You said at the beginning of the week that this course has not treated you that well. How satisfying is it to turn it around and get the win?

VIJAY SINGH: You've got to be consistent over here, play consistent. You have to be very patient. There are short holes, a lot of doglegs, and I think from past experience that's what helped me make it through today. I knew there was -- coming into the last day, nobody is going to shoot very low. Ernie did that, but coming from that far behind -- I knew the leaders were going to be tighten up. I knew they were going to tighten up coming into today and that's what happened.

Q. What parts of your game were sharper today than the first three rounds?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I drove the ball really well, and my iron play came together. I was missing a lot of iron shots but today most of them were finding the target. I think I missed one iron shot, that was on 14, where I left it way short. But apart from that, everyone else was on target.

Q. When were you aware of Ernie getting to 10-under?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I was playing the 12th hole and he hit his second shot on to the green, and I heard the roar from 12, which is, you know, adjacent to 18. So I knew he had made that and looked up the board and he got to 10-under, I think it was after the 12th.

Q. 18 on this course, is 18 in the back of your mind when you're tied for the lead and you know you get a chance to play 18?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I tell you, it's a tough driving hole for me because I don't really draw the ball. And to hit where I did today, I may take another bucket of balls and not be able to hit that kind of shot. I think it just came out perfect and I released it just as well. That's a tough hole, the wind is coming left-to-right, and if you came it a little too far right, you're going to run out of fairway.

But stepping on to 18, you know that you have to make a birdie there because most of the guys are going to do that. After I set up with a driver, I only had 220 to the pin. So I knew I was going to make birdie from there.

TODD BUDNICK: Speaking of that drive, you looked a little unsure when it went off the club, on TV at least, like maybe it was going to head into the bunker. Did you have thoughts of that?

VIJAY SINGH: I planned to draw it and I practiced it yesterday, but, you know, when it came off, there was that big tree in front of me, I was just kind of worried about going around it and it flew right over that. That was the worry part. Seeing it go by that, was a lift.

Q. Does this early win set you up for a good win, 2005?

VIJAY SINGH: I hope so. It takes a lot of pressure off me. Everybody thinks, "Is he going to win again, is he going to win again." I missed an opportunity last week, that could actually work against me if I do that. I think this is going to help. This is a great relief that, you know, I can start breathing again and go and play more comfortable for the rest of the season.

I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I think I'm going I've calmed down now after last week and this is what I needed.

Q. It sounded like you touched on it at the trophy presentation, but what's your opinion of this tournament and of these fans down here?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, the fans are great. I think they are very enthusiastic about this golf tournament. The turnout has always been great from the very first, even the practice rounds. I think they like to see good golf and this week, you saw some of the best golf you're ever going to see.

Q. What were your thoughts and feelings as you waited for the final group to come in and were you expecting a playoff?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I knew they were two back. When I left the 18th hole, they were two shots back and the finishing holes, except for 18, they are pretty hard to make birdies on. I knew that to not make birdies on 17, make eagle on 18 is a tall order, but Aoki did that against Renner; and Maruyama, you never know. (Laughter.) He hit in the rough and I was comfortable with that when he was playing his third shot, he missed it, so that was fine.

Q. Over the last two years, how much pressure do you feel or do you put on yourself to equal those?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't think that I'm putting any pressure on myself. I think the pressure I've got to put is how I'm going to perform. I want to go out there and win golf tournaments, and like this is a relief now that I've already won one. I can relax and go out and play. If I had not won one, like I let one go last week, it would kind of -- I would be tensing up as the weeks go by not winning one. But this is a big load off my back, and I can go and relax and play. I think it's going to be a great year.

Q. Not to dwell on this, but how much did that affect you coming into this week? How long before you could shake off what happened last week?

VIJAY SINGH: I was pretty upset for two or three days, because, you know, all I needed to do was shoot, you know, 2- or 3-under there and I would have won. Shooting over par on last day on a golf course that was yielding a lot of birdies, I was pretty disappointed.

You know, one hole, that's what cost me, and that's the thing I had to work on. It wasn't the way I finished, it's the way I drove the ball there and that was the key factor. Using a new driver coming into the season and hitting a bad shot with that, I didn't want that to be a factor for the rest of the season, so I needed to fix that.

I did fix the driver and it worked this week. This was a good week to try a new driver because it's tight driving holes and the wind was -- most of the holes were crosswind. Yeah, I was pretty upset, but you know, it kind of worked out.

Q. What did you switch from and to?

VIJAY SINGH: I changed the shaft. It's the same driver but I changed the draft. I think it was too strong for the beginning part of the week, and then I changed the driver to a weaker one and that didn't work, but they kind of adjusted that and just measured my swing right there.

Q. You had a nice stretch in the middle of your round that kind of like catapulted you up. Can you talk about that stretch; there was a couple of putts you made that were kind of big?

VIJAY SINGH: The one I made on 10 was pretty important. You know, I hit a pretty good drive but I finished in the bunker and, you know, I couldn't really attack the hole because the coconut tree was right in front of my ball. So I had to go around it.

But to see that ball fall in, and then I hit a good approach shot on the 11th hole, that was about an 8-, 10-footer and I saw that go in, that got me to 10-under. I said, I can play relaxed now. I was hitting my tee shots, my approach shots to the green, my iron play was really good today. I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I don't think I missed a green all day because. I just played really solid golf.

Q. You said coming in here, obviously, that you had not had success at this course; what is it next week that you have issues with at Torrey Pines?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I think the poa annua greens. It's the other golf course. I'm pretty happy with the South Course. It's the North Course that you have to go out and put a lot of pressure onto try and shoot low.

I don't know, just something about it. Maybe this week is going to be -- I love the South Course. I think it's long, I think it favors long hitters, straight hitters, but I just have to put it together. I've just never been able to putt it together.

Q. Did you feel less pressure by not being in the final group today and knowing that you had to catch the leaders?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, yes and no. I mean, you always like to be the leader going into the last day, because I think if you're the leader, they have to come and catch you if you're playing well. And.

Also, I think it's a lot more pressure you put on yourself to go out there and perform well to try to catch the leaders, but you need a good start and that's what I did. I had a good start and I was very comfortable chasing them after that.

But, you know, you never can tell what you're going to do. It really depends on the leaders, how they are playing if you ever trying to catch them. No matter how good they play, if they play better than you, you can't catch them. That's why you'd rather be the leader going into the last day.

Q. You made a big putt on 14, saving par. Can you talk about that putt?

VIJAY SINGH: That was probably the worst iron shot, it was a wedge and I left it some 40 feet short of the pin. I kept hitting every putt short today and I said, I'm going to give this a good hit, and it went like, I don't know, seven, eight feet by. I just picked up my line and I said, just hit it and if it goes in, it goes in. I put a stroke on it and must have picked the right line and went in the middle of the hole. It was a relief to see it go in, because I knew the last few holes it was go to be hard making birdies.

Q. At what point did you figure this was yours to win?

VIJAY SINGH: I never thought it at any point. You know, I hit a great putt on 17, and I don't know how the ball did not go in. It was like two foot away, and I said, "That's got to go in." And at that point, I said, well this, could be my tournament, but that missed, and I said, "Well, here we go again." And I hit a good drive on 18.

When I saw the guys drop a shot, I had a good chance that I was going to win.

Q. So did you feel 18 owes you?

VIJAY SINGH: I never birdied that all week, except today and I bogeyed it on Thursday. So it was good to see a 4 on that score card.

Q. Just wanted to check, is Paul starting with you next week?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I think he's already doing the yardages right now. He's excited. He was more excited than I've ever seen him and I'm looking forward to having him.

I had a great time with Joey. I think his track record with me is always Top-10; maybe I should keep him for the rest of the year. But I think it puts a lot of pressure on me trying to get yardages and trying to get carries and things like that. So I'm going to try Paul out and see how it goes.

Q. Why have you been coming here so loyally over the years?

VIJAY SINGH: I like it. It feels like home. I love the weather here. If I had to move and I wasn't playing golf tournaments, this is a place I'd like to come and live. You can't beat this weather, the people are friendly. And, hey, it's Hawaii.

Q. Will you be back to defend your title next year?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I think so. (Laughter.)

Q. In the past when Tiger had been No. 1, there seemed to be an intimidation factor when he would come from behind and kind of take it over. You are No. 1 now and you've had great success over the last 24 months, the guys in front of you today all shot over par, do you feel like there may have been some intimidation factor with that fast start?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. And also, Ernie played well, as well. So if you post a score up there, instead of you playing your normal game, you're trying to protect your lead or trying to make sure you don't lose it. Everyone shot -- it kind of changed the way I thought as well. Once he got to 10-under, and I'm 10; before that I was looking forward to making birdie on every hole and all of the sudden, it figures like, hey, you don't have to drop a shot anymore because he's already posted 10.

So it does play some crazy things in your mind. That was the main reason; I think Ernie was the cause of everybody dropping out because he had already posted up there and finishing holes over here are pretty tough.

TODD BUDNICK: No bogeys, we'll go through your birdies.

VIJAY SINGH: I hit a 5-wood, wedge to about two feet.

9, I hit driver, 6-iron about 15 foot, 2-putted.

10, I hit a driver into the bunker, chipped out about 15 feet.

11, 6-iron about eight, ten feet.

18, driver, 5-wood, about 20 feet, 25 feet.

TODD BUDNICK: Any other saves besides 14?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the putt on 14 was big. Besides that, I don't think I had another one.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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