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October 20, 2004

Vijay Singh


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Vijay, thank you for joining us here in the media center at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort. Great year this year, eight wins. Why don't you begin with how it feels being back here in the United States. You played a little bit overseas, and now you're returning over here to get back on top again.

VIJAY SINGH: It's nice to be out here. I couldn't wait to get back, not that I didn't enjoy playing over there, it's just the weather was incredibly cold.

But it's nice to be back here. I like the golf courses. I think there will be a lot of changes to the Palm Course; the greens especially will be very different, so I'm looking forward to it. There's not much run out there. You've got to drive the ball straight, and I think you're going to have a lot of mud on the ball, depending on what the Tour is going to do, play the ball up or down, but I'm really looking forward to this week.

Q. You call Florida home; you're playing in your backyard. Do you prefer playing close to home or are there too many distractions?

VIJAY SINGH: I've never done well at TPC, so that should tell you something. I mean, I don't mind. I just think it's nice to be around home where I can drive to the golf course. I'm not traveling up-and-down, I'm staying here, but after Sunday you can just drive back home. That's the easiest thing.

You know, I like it here, the weather. It's warm, and I'm used to the conditions, the ground conditions, how they are. At TPC it's Bermuda in the fairways and roughs, so I get to know the conditions a little bit that way. It doesn't matter where I play; as long as my game is strong and I play well, I'm okay.

Q. What was the hurricane damage like to your house, was it erosion or was it anything major?

VIJAY SINGH: There was some roof -- had some roof blown off and water that came in, some trees down and stuff like that, but nothing really major where I needed any work. Also why I didn't go to Ireland was because I couldn't fly back Sunday night, I had to fly back Monday, and it was just one day too late. I didn't think I was going to be ready when I got there. Looking at the weather, I don't think I missed anything.

Q. Have you had a chance to reflect on what you've accomplished this year, or have you not even allowed yourself to think of all the things that you've done? Winning eight times obviously has not been done very often.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, you kind of think about it. I've talked to my trainer, I've talked to my wife and my friends at home about what I've done, but the focus is to try to end the year on a positive note. There's three more tournaments to go, and this so-called ten mark that they all talk about, I'd like to achieve that, as well.

My focus, I've been practicing a little bit trying to get to this tournament and be prepared, as well. These last three tournaments I want to end on a high note. You know, I've won two out of three or three out of four events, whatever it is (laughter), so I just want to keep it going and see if it's going to last.

I just don't want the season to end, put it this way. The way I've been playing, it's great and I'm enjoying it, and come first tournament next year everybody is on level terms and you've got to start all over again, but this is my high and I'd like to ride it.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: I think it's everything that I thought it was going to be, even better off two weeks after that. So that kind of got me going, and I never had a chance to reflect back and see, hey, what the big difference is. Winning straight after was getting my lead a little bit further up there, and I just wanted to go higher and higher. My focus after I had taken over the No. 1 spot was to try and win one more tournament.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: Not really. I always thought I was going to be No. 1, or I was No. 1, but then when I actually achieved it, I got a lot of great response from my peers. Everywhere I went, they just looked up at me and congratulated me, and that was really something that was special, and that really got to me. Everybody really came up and congratulated me. In the middle of the season doing that -- end of the season is a different story, but middle of the season, that was a different story.

Q. Do you remember what you did with your belly putter?

VIJAY SINGH: I carried it around when I changed. For the next two weeks I had it with me all the time. Finally I decided to leave it at home. It's home where I can always get to it, but right now I don't think I need it.

Q. Is it in the garage?

VIJAY SINGH: It's in (inaudible) right on top.

Q. How much has your putting been a part of this? I mean, the way -- when you switched putters and --

VIJAY SINGH: I think it's a big part of my success. You know, I've gone back to a conventional putter and I feel a lot more positive on the greens. I can make many more putts inside six, eight feet, and I feel like I'm going to make it, which is a big difference than standing over there and saying, "Man, I hope it goes in." I'm making a lot more birdies inside 20, 25 feet, and I'm having a run at it. I enjoy putting now. I think it has everything to do with my success that I've gotten this year.

Q. Two questions: Firstly, what happened last week with Langer?

VIJAY SINGH: I didn't play badly. He just played better than me. I didn't play poorly, I didn't play badly. He just played better than I did. I thought I had him and I got it back to three down with four to go and got it back to even, and I thought, this is it, and I had a chance on the last hole to -- I hit a good putt, but he hit two on the green there and two-putted and I couldn't make that. He just played better than me.

The cold was a little bit too much. I couldn't play aggressively. It's not a long golf course where strength really matters. You have to play with your drives under that condition and just putt well. I couldn't adjust to hitting sand wedges 20, 25 yards past the pin and suck it back to the hole, and spinning back 4-irons was a little bit too much.

Q. Secondly, I read that you're going to design a course in Fiji; is that correct?


Q. Can you tell us something about it?

VIJAY SINGH: It's still not finalized yet, but I'm going in January next year and I'm going to have a little bit more say on this golf course. I've designed one or two before, but they were really on paper. This one I'm going to get on the ground and really put my effort in it. It's a golf course that's going to be made at the Four Seasons. It's going to be on the western side where I grew up. It hasn't even broken ground yet.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I mean, especially this week. I mean, I like to start off this week -- Eastlake, I've had great success there. I don't think I've finished outside of the Top 3 or 4 at the time I played there. Next week's golf course is a very, very difficult course. It requires great ball-striking and you've got to keep the ball in play. It doesn't give up. You just have to play solid golf, have to play well. You've got to keep your ball straight.

I have good feelings coming back. I just feel that I'm ready to play and see what happens. I enjoy playing here, I've always played well here, so like you said, the crowd was great and I hope it behaves itself.

Q. I was reading an old clip that talked about how you came to be on this Tour, and you sort of pointed to an event at Bay Hill where I think you finished 2nd. Did you have any status then? It wasn't your first event in the U.S. I know, you played some here and there before that, but did you have any status here -- you kind of got the Arnold Palmer IMG exemption into that? What was the background on that? Was that the point where you launched it?

VIJAY SINGH: I think that was my first event. I don't know if I played Memorial before that, I may have. It was like in 92 when I came and played that. I played Bay Hill. I think I played five events and secured my card there. I was with IMG, and Palmer gave me an invite to that. It's a special event for me. I've always come back and played it, even the few times that my schedule almost didn't allow me to come back, but I always came back and played Bay Hill because it's a special event and that's pretty much where I secured my playing privileges here.

Q. Before you and Tiger, it's a long way back since someone has won eight times on the Tour. I think Johnny Miller was the last one. Jack Nicklaus never did it, Tom Watson. I'm wondering if that gives you any good feeling to know that there's great names in golf that haven't won eight times.

VIJAY SINGH: I never knew that until you just told me. Those kind of things, like I said, I never thought I was going to win this many events. It is happening and I'm enjoying it. Just to be even mentioned near those guys, I mean, it's just really unbelievable. Yeah, you look at these things and you go back and all the stats are going to come in, what you've done. I only look at all my stats and what I have achieved. I'll sit back and enjoy what I have achieved after the season is over and probably go away somewhere and get drunk for two weeks (laughter). You can join me, as well, if you want.

That's what I do. I don't really look at stats and look at how many tournaments I've won. You've got to be really focused on what you're doing. My focus is on this event, and I've never really -- I try not to get complacent, and that's the way I look at it.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: There's so many things that I have done this year. You know, the main thing would be what I'm going to do next year, how I'm going to approach next year. Last year I had a great season, then I had an incredible season this year. How am I going to approach next year? That's what I'm going to sit back and think about. It's going to be a big disappointment if I don't win a tournament next year. How am I going to take that? Those are the things that I've got to sit back and worry about. Not worry about, but think about how I'm going to approach it. This is a season that isn't going to come that many times. You can ask me next year what I thought about it.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I have. I played there three years ago, The Skins Game, and I haven't gone back, but I won that Skins Game, so I haven't really gone back to defend. I haven't had any others, so they're waiting for me to come back so they can have another one. The timing is perfect this year. I think Todd Hamilton is going, as well, and Justin Rose. It's going to be the weekend after the Tour Championship, so it'll be a good trip.

They've really welcomed me incredibly, especially with the way I've played, so I'm looking forward to playing. The culture over there is different, and just going there will be different for a change. I think it's going to be good for me.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I don't know. It's my golf swing. I need to practice just the golf itself and nothing else. That will keep me from blocking the shot. Then they came up with a shaft that was going to hit the shot. There's a reason why you block, because when you drop it down you block shots. I changed shafts to cover that, and we thought, well, why don't we put both of them at the same time. It worked with my golf swing. I feel so comfortable doing that, and then when I get on the golf course I don't have anything on me, and I just go and play and it keeps everything on alignment. People that look at my golf swing look at the flaws that I have. Anybody that tells me that I'm making those mistakes, I think those are the things that I have to work on.

Q. (Inaudible).

VIJAY SINGH: I'm undecided there. I'm definitely playing the Father-Son and the Grand Slam so I'm looking forward to those two. I was going to go to Hong Kong, but it fell through.

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

End of FastScripts.

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