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October 31, 2004

Vijay Singh


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome the 2004 Chrysler Championship champion, Vijay Singh. There's so many other ways to introduce you today, Vijay, but I guess golf's first $10 Million Man describes it best.

VIJAY SINGH: That's a new one. It's a good one, though. It's been great. I'm really excited, an unbelievable day today. I really wanted to win this one. I wasn't going to let it go. I achieved what I set out to do this morning and just played solid golf, focused all the way out. Tommy played pretty good and just kept in touch, so it kept my focus up, as well. I'm really glad to have completed this task.

TODD BUDNICK: Nine wins in one season, just the sixth player to do that. Ben Hogan did it twice in 46 and 48. What does that figure mean?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, I'm not one for stats, not one to keep records. I just feel it's been an incredible year for me. These wins, I just haven't really sat down and really thought about it, what I've done. I have not enjoyed it yet. It's a process. I'll only enjoy it when the season is over.

It's another week next week. I'm leaving for the tournament tomorrow, so there's really no time not to sit back, relax and say, "Wow, what a great season." It is a great season. I know that. No matter how hard I try, it might be almost an impossible thing to do again. You never know, we'll try again next year and see what happens.

TODD BUDNICK: Today on the course you birdie 1 and 2 and never give anybody a chance to get into the race.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it was a good way to start, and then I made some nice putts. I think 1 and 2 I really needed to make, and then from there on I played really solid golf. I had one or two bad shots here and there, but I got away with them. The one I needed to make was on 16 where Tommy made the bomb, and I said, "Oh, man, now it's only going to be 2," and then I made a 10-footer for par, and that kind of relaxed me and then made a good one on the next hole, too.

Tommy just kept me there, as well, kept my focus up. I just played solid golf today.

Q. You said you didn't want to let this one go. Is it just because this is the one you're playing in this week or was it a special tournament?

VIJAY SINGH: I was in a position to win. Whenever you're in a position to win, you don't want to let it go. I don't know what's going to happen next week, but this is one chance where I'm up there and I'm playing well and I just wanted to finish the deal. That's pretty much what it was. I wanted them to come and beat me. I wasn't going to let it go. That's what happened.

I was really focused and kept the intensity up all through the day.

Q. You've always been a good player since you came to the Tour. You could win any time, but you've never won nine times in a year. Have you gotten better now or did you just play better golf this year than ever before?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I did everything good this year. When I was in trouble, I got out of it. When I needed to get up-and-down, I got up-and-down. The second half of the year, the putter change did me great. I started putting really good and started driving the ball really straight, as well. The whole package has been good. My head has been pretty clear, as well, which is what you need to play good golf and win tournaments.

Q. I hate to look ahead to next week, but I'm going to. The worst you've ever finished at Eastlake is 3rd, and you won it the last time they played it there and played I think in the last group with Tiger the time before that. Ten wins in a year? You've got to be good mojo going.

VIJAY SINGH: You'll have to wait until next Sunday to find out. I'm going to go there tomorrow and be focused. I like the golf course, and the way I'm playing I feel like I have a good chance of winning again. I'm not going to show up there and feel relaxed or anything like that. I'm going to be as intense as I've ever been. I'm looking to go there and play well in the golf tournament. If it happens, that's another story.

Q. I think it might have been at the British Open you had a disappointing weekend, and I think you even said that you had to reassess some things, and it's really been since then that you've been on this tear. Was that the time and what was it that -- was that when you made the putter change?

VIJAY SINGH: I was putting too much pressure on my long game. I think I averaged, I must have said this a dozen times, 34 putts a round. I played good enough to win that golf tournament, but the putter was the one that let me down. Ever since the British Open, I think -- I don't know what my stats are before and after, but it should be way up there because I've been putting incredibly and I feel very good with a putter.

I feel comfortable, I'm enjoying it. It kind of works throughout the whole game. When you putt well, you can attack the pins a little bit more, be aggressive with the chip shots and do the whole package. You're not scared to go out there and mis-hit a shot because you know you can get up-and-down.

Q. You've closed the deal, what, ten times now, 11 times, after leading after 54 holes. Put that in context. You obviously must be proud of that.

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, I'm not thinking about it when I'm going out there. I always felt that if you're playing well and in the lead, obviously you're playing the best golf out there, so you should be able to go out there and play well the last round.

You know, I'm always worried when I make incredible putts or lucky breaks here and there and then be in the lead, but after the third round, you must be playing good enough golf to get up there, and when you do that, I think -- that's the way I think, that I'm comfortable enough to go out there and play another round of golf, a solid round of golf, and that's -- when I teed up today, I said, "They have to come and get me. I'm not going to let this one go." From the very getgo I was aggressive and very focused in what I was doing. I didn't let anything distract me.

Q. They were feeling more pressure than you were?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. I'm in the lead, and I felt that they had to come and get me. Unless I play bad golf, which happens a lot, but lately I've been playing good enough golf where I've been finishing the deal.

Q. You said to Judy that this is satisfying, very satisfying. Are you having more fun than you're letting on or than some of us think you're having?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I always have fun. I mean, I've got to say this. You guys are here -- not all of you, but the way you write about me, I'm very intense out there. I have more fun out there -- I probably had more fun out there today than you guys are ever going to have in a whole year (laughter), but my fun out there is very intense, and when I finish the round, then I enjoy the game.

Look how serious you guys are right here. This is your work. My work is out there. If you write -- people who don't know me read what you guys write about me, and if you write negative about me, how I'm not having fun, how serious I am, that is not true. How many of you were out there at the driving range this morning? Probably none of you. I saw Bob there and one or two other guys. I have fun, I talk to the guys, and I probably have more fun than 80 percent of the guys out there, but you guys do not write that. You see how intense I am.

Off the golf course, when I come over here, I'm still intense. I cannot just let go and be relaxed. The intensity still stays on for a couple of hours. I mean, that's the way you focus, that's the way you wind down. It takes a while. So write good (laughter).

Q. Drinking that Red Bull is not going to take the edge off.

VIJAY SINGH: You asked for it.

Q. Looks like you had a lot of fun with the gallery today. They were very supportive of you. Can you talk about that today?

VIJAY SINGH: I think they were excited, more excited about how I've been playing all year and just excited about how my whole season has been. Obviously they root for the -- if you're leading and winning, they always root for that. I feel like I'm at home here. I live across -- the other side of the coast, and it's almost like home. Florida is home for me. That's probably why they enjoyed it more.

Q. I believe they said it was a tournament record for this weekend. Just specific to this weekend, do you feel you can play better than you did this weekend up and back?

VIJAY SINGH: It's pretty hard to put four good rounds together, which I did. I just played solid golf. I managed really well. I knew how difficult the roughs were. I think the key was I know where to miss on the fairways, so if you do miss the fairways, which side to miss it. I made a point if I did miss it, give myself a shot to the green, or if I miss it long, have a wedge to the green. I didn't go out there using 3-woods or irons off the tee. I stayed to my game plan and I drove the ball really straight. I think I did miss very few fairways, and when I did miss it, it was in the correct places.

Q. I'm sure you are aware now that guys are very eager to keep on eye on you, where you're at, what you're doing. Is that the highest compliment that can be paid out here?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. When Tiger was playing so well, everybody was wondering what is he doing or how far back is he and when is he going to show up on the leaderboard. It's good to see my name up there and see people worry about me instead of me worrying about others. It's a great feeling. I'm enjoying it. I love it. Come and get me.

Q. Vijay, making $10 million, can you put that in perspective for us? Maybe share what it was like as a young pro. Did you worry about money? What are some of the things you had to do to supplement income, save money?

VIJAY SINGH: We don't have enough time for that (laughter).

Q. Just a few little interesting tidbits.

VIJAY SINGH: It's been unbelievable. I cannot really -- it was a struggle. It was a lot to learn from, what I've been through. I think it's an experience in life where it was tough, but it was educational in a way. I wouldn't like to go back there, but I've learned so much from it that this is the reward. I can't help but say it's just -- it's like a miracle that I'm sitting up here with $10 million and nine wins in a season. It really is something that wouldn't normally happen.

TODD BUDNICK: Do you know how long it took you to win that first $10 million on Tour?

VIJAY SINGH: You guys are the stats guys.

TODD BUDNICK: The year 2000, and it was your 173rd event on Tour.

VIJAY SINGH: There you go.

Q. The most unusual thing, job or thing you did to save money or make money?

VIJAY SINGH: I've done a lot of things. I was a bouncer one time, bounced people off (laughter). I guess that's the most dangerous thing that I've ever done.

Q. Where were you a bouncer at?

VIJAY SINGH: In Scotland.

Q. A bar, restaurant?

VIJAY SINGH: It was a nightclub.

Q. You were six back yesterday after you bogeyed 2 and 3 and you ended up winning by 5. How is it that you can just kind of roar past people? Is it just supreme confidence?

VIJAY SINGH: 6 back with 34 to go, there's a lot of golf left. I just played very solid. Like I said yesterday, I mean, it's good to make early bogeys if you do make any, then you have a lot of room to catch up. After that I just did not make too many mistakes. The golf course is pretty tough. If you're up there, it's really, really hard. If you make one mistake, you can easily make a double or a bogey.

A lot of guys, when they're in trouble, they try to get away with making pars and take risks. I just try to get out of trouble and see if I can get up-and-down. I think that's the key. If you're in trouble, get out of it and try not to make too many mistakes. That's what I did the whole weekend anyway.

Q. You've accomplished a lot this year. Just to name a few of them, Money List record, you've won the PGA, you're going to be voted Player of the Year. I don't think anybody disputes that. You've won nine times, took over No. 1 in the World Rankings and you appear to still be improving. I'm wondering which one of those you're the most proud of.

VIJAY SINGH: I think all of them. I think nine wins is incredible. You know, I don't know, Player of the Year is unbelievable. I mean, it's one of the biggest things. You never think that you're going to do that until you've done it.

It's also important to me this year because I thought I had a chance of winning it last year, as well, so to come back this year and win it, that's incredible.

I was just talking to my trainer today, I said, the Money List two years in a row, as well, is a big achievement, as well. It's not very easily done. I guess they're all important one way or the other.

Q. You finished 2nd here this year. All this week you've talked about the importance of staying out of the rough and missing in the right places. To what extent this week did you play attacking golf and attack the golf course?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, there's some holes where I don't feel comfortable hitting tee ball -- 16 was one of them. I tried to play very safe there, but fortunately I think I made a birdie and three pars there. When I felt comfortable off the tees I would make the risks. Par 5s especially I would go for it a little bit more. It's how I felt on the tee. I kept using my driver, which was the key. I did not back off and I was always aggressive off the tees. That put me in a position where you could make a lot of shots at the pins, attack the pins from good positions.

Q. Can people learn a lot about a golf tournament by the players who win it? Retief won here last year, you this year?

VIJAY SINGH: I think it's ball-strikers. Retief is a great ball-striker and I'm not too bad, either. I think that's the key. If you strike the ball well and your misses are not so bad, I think it's how bad you miss the shots over here. Tommy played a great round of golf, but he missed a few places where he could not really recover from. He was in a position to -- and also, when you're in a position to win, it's how good you play from there in.

Retief played great last year after his lead and after the third round, and I did the same today. It's how you play when you get the lead. It's how you hold onto it. That's how people should -- golfers should learn from that.

TODD BUDNICK: You've also wrapped up your third consecutive Fall Finish presented by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. How do you feel about that, three times in a row, three falls? It kind of pushes you over the $1 million mark.

VIJAY SINGH: I think it's great. I thought I wrapped it up last week anyway.

TODD BUDNICK: There was still a chance that Ryan Palmer could have.

VIJAY SINGH: That's incredible. I wasn't thinking about that too much, but that's another little thing that I have to think about. It was great last year, it's great this year. I don't know what else to say. It's unbelievable.

TODD BUDNICK: We'll go through the card.

VIJAY SINGH: I hit driver, 5-wood just left of the green, chipped it about six feet.

2nd hole, I hit 5-wood, 7-iron about eight foot.

5th hole, I hit driver, 6-iron, 9-iron to about 15 foot.

6, I hit a driver, pitched out, sand wedge over the green, pitched it about a foot.

9th hole, I hit a driver, sand wedge about six foot.

10th hole, I hit a driver, 9-iron about four feet.

13, I hit a 6-iron about four feet.

18, I hit driver, sand wedge about 15 foot.

Thanks, guys.

End of FastScripts.

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