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October 6, 2004

Vijay Singh


SCOTT CROCKETT: Thanks as always for coming in. It's been a tremendous last couple of months for you, taking over the world's No. 1, congratulations on that. Maybe if you could start us off with reflecting on last couple of months. Must be very, very pleasing for you,

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I've been winning quite a few times. When you start doing that, the game becomes very exciting. You show up at a golf tournament and you don't think about anything else but winning. But at the same time, you know, I've taken over the No. 1 spot and winning a major in the meantime that, you know, doing things that, you know it's not normally heard of: Winning a major, taking over the No. 1 spot and winning three tournaments in a row. Everything happens in such a short space of time that it's hard to really comprehend, you know, what's going on. It was like, wow, you know, you go back home and sit down and go out for two days go out and do it again.

It was exciting and it's been exciting, and this is my next tournament after the one I won last. I'm really excited to be here again, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how I'm going to perform here in these beautiful conditions.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You took the week off last week to inspect the damage to your home. How are things?

VIJAY SINGH: It was okay. There was some leaks in the house and trees down and all that. But the main reason was I wasn't going to get here till Wednesday and that wasn't the way I prepare myself for a golf tournament, and if I had done that, I don't think I would have performed well at all.

So one was, you know, going home and seeing my family after just being through two decent hurricanes, and getting guys out to fix the roof and all that. But no real big damage, but enough to, you know that, required my attention.

Q. What has been the difference in your game this year that you attribute to your success?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, the main thing was putting. You know, I think that was the main -- you go back and see how you play and what part of your game needed help. You know, putting just stood way up there. It stood out, really the first tournament I played after that was with the conventional putter, and won the first tournament I played; won the first two I played, put it this way. That made a big difference in my golf game and it went kind of all the way through my game. I mean, if you're putting well, you can chip a little bit more confidently and you can attack the pins a little bit more knowing that you if you miss you can chip it. And you can be more aggressive with the driver, knowing that if you miss the fairway you can get up-and-down if you miss the green.

So It went through my whole game and through my head, too. When you start doing that, you start getting more confidence in your own ability in your own shots. I think that was the main reason right there was the putting. I averaged 34-some putts in the Open and you cannot win golf tournaments doing that. If you look at my last five or six events, you know, I'm probably one of the best putters on TOUR right now.

Q. Is it just down to the putting?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I think. I always putted with a short putter at home. I have a little putting green at home where I always practice, and I've always putted with a conventional putter at home. Maybe I should have putted with a belly putter but I always thought it was one time, it wasn't a permanent thing with the belly putter. And in the meantime, guys were talking about, you know, whether it's right to use the belly putter and guys commented on it, and everything kind of came to a situation where I thought, you know, I'm going to go back and try the conventional putter and see how my touch is, and it kind of worked. I practiced for one whole week, just two hours a day at home and went out there. The best thing that ever happened was I won the first tournament I played with that. The very first round I played with it, I shot 63, so that took a lot of pressure off.

Q. I believe the wind is going to die down, will that suit you?

VIJAY SINGH: Over here, you mean? I'll believe it when I see it. It's cold, as well. I don't mind the wind. As long as it doesn't get this windy and cold at the same time, it's pretty hard to play in conditions like that. If it's only cold and windy for me, I'm going to have a problem with it, but everybody is going to have the same thing.

I saw the draw and I'm pretty happy the way the draw is gone. I playing Kingsbarns first, and I think no matter what the wind condition is on the course, it will not affect our game too much. And then playing here the second day and Carnoustie after that, so, I'm quite happy with that, yeah.

Q. How big is the putting green you have at home?

VIJAY SINGH: It's about the size of this room here -- no, I'd say probably a 2,000 square foot. 2,000 square foot probably. It's great for practice. It's not a -- it's an artificial surface, but it's just absolutely perfect.

Q. How much time do you spend on it?

VIJAY SINGH: I only putt in the evenings there, maybe an hour, just mess around. It's a good time to spend time with my boy. Whenever I'm putting, he's there as well so, that way I kind of bring him out, too. If I didn't have it, I wouldn't be putting this way. It's just enough time for me to spend on the putting green that I don't normally do on the golf course.

Q. Do you have contests with your son on it?

VIJAY SINGH: A little bit, but not too much. I kind of focus on my own little drills that I do. But I do mess around with him quite a bit, yeah.

Q. What did Ernie say to you about the putter switch?

VIJAY SINGH: First time at the PGA and I kind of mentioned that maybe should I have stuck to the long putter. No, he didn't. We joked around a lot, but no real, you know, serious talk.

Q. What was it like the first time hearing yourself announced as the world No. 1?

VIJAY SINGH: It was in Canada, and it was kind of strange just to be announced as world No. 1. It was exciting in a sense, that's the first time that I was announced as world No. 1. It's the first tournament I played in as the world No. 1. It was a good feeling. It kind of just -- a sudden adrenaline that ran right through you to say, hey, you are who you are and that's how they announced you. And on top of that, I hit the driver straight down the middle, so that kind of started off really well and I won the tournament, which made it even more special.

Q. Are you surprised to have seen Tiger drop down to World Number Three?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I don't know, it was so close for so long. Sooner or later if he doesn't win, Ernie and myself, if we keep winning, he was going to be replaced. And he had not won a golf tournament in, what, five, six months, whatever time it's been. I mean, you've got to win golf tournaments to stay up there. I mean, you can stay up there if you don't win and finish with Top-10s, but to get 1 or 2 you have to win. And Ernie has done the same thing. Tiger has not won. Nobody could beat him in the last two or three years because he was winning so many more tournaments than anybody else. To stay on top, you've got to start winning golf tournaments. And I'm sure he's going to start winning sooner or later, but at the moment I think his focus is elsewhere.

Q. You said you found your success hard to comprehend, can you expand on that?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, beginning of the year, I had a great season last year. To top that would have -- you know, if I was anybody else, thinking like the first time I played, that would have been a pretty hard feat to beat. I would have taken the same as last year, but I've won twice as many tournaments and a major at the same time, that's a big accomplishment for me, for anybody, for that matter. And I'm surprised that I played so well; at the same time, I'm thrilled and excited.

You kind of touch on how far you can go and how high you can go and you start looking at how good you really are, and it kind of brings a side of you out that you never thought you had. I thought I could win a lot of golf tournaments, but so many in a row, so many in one year that now, you know, you think that you can't stop winning golf tournaments. And that's my feeling now; that every time I tee it up, I can win golf tournaments. It's confidence, and I feel really, really right now that I can win anything that I play in.

Q. What is left for you this year?

VIJAY SINGH: A few in the States and a few over here. I'm teeing it up this week right here and I'm just excited, and I know everybody's eyes are going to be on me and they are going to want to know what I'm doing. I just want to go out there and play and feel like I can contend come Sunday. And if I'm up there on Sunday I have a good chance that I can pull it off, but I have to do it. You have to go out there and perform, and I'm playing well enough to know that I'm able to do that.

Q. How much better can you get though?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, I've never, ever thought that I could win four or five, six tournaments a year, and I've won eight already this year in the States. If you look at the people that have won more than five, six, seven events has been a very selected number of people.

I'd like to get to ten if I can in the States. That's my goal. Two out of the last three tournaments, it's going to be a tall order, but I've just won four out of five or five out of six, so I'm sure I'm capable of doing that. But that's going to be my goal right now.

Q. Why do you think Tiger�s game has slipped back a bit?

VIJAY SINGH: That's a hard one for me to comment on. I think it's his body change a little bit, his golf swing change. Think as you get older you have to keep adjusting to your golf swing. I think your body does not stay the same. I mean, when he first came on the scene, he was in extremely strong. I'm not saying he's not strong, but you do slow down a little bit. So the golf swing has to match your body ability. I don't think he has progressed that way. I think that's a big change in his body mannerism and his golf swing.

You know, I have adjusted accordingly and for the better and I don't think he has done that. I think his body and his golf swing does not match like it did some five years or four years ago, SO he has to adjust that. I'm sure once he figures that one out, he'll be okay.

Q. How long do you think you can keep playing like you are?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I don't know. I wish I could say another five or six years but I don't think it's going to be possible unless I keep up the same exercise regime that I'm going through right now. My trainer just told me two weeks ago we're going to bump it up next year. I said, "How much more can we bump it up?" I'm already dying over here, the way he's taken me through, two workouts a day. He said we're going to do different stuff to help me get stronger in a different way and we bought some equipment at home that's going to help my core. So, I'm looking forward to it, and there's always a limitation there. I'll see how high I can take myself.

Q. Can I ask about the lettering on your sweater, is that new?

VIJAY SINGH: No, I've had this for some four years, I think, five years, yeah -- (inaudible) -- who is here has acquired IMG, who is my management group, as well. So as much as he's my sponsorship, he's also going to be working for me, indirectly I guess. (Laughing.) But we have a great relationship and he's not only my sponsor, he's a very dear friend of mine. So I think, you know, I think we're going to work things out together fine.

Q. Is this a fun week for you?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I played with him for the last 12 years at AT&T, which is the same format as this. We played this the very first time it was held. I just have a great time with him. We fly over on his plane, which is another luxury that not many of us can have. We just have a good time and enjoy ourselves, and in the meantime, I try to win a golf tournament. I did the same thing at AT&T and finally pulled one off there. It's just a good week.

Q. Have you celebrated in any way since becoming No. 1?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, it's very hard to say, how do you celebrate you get home for a week, and last week was the first week where I was at home -- yeah, really. I went up to -- there was a conference up in Aspen (ph) that I went up for three days. We really haven't celebrated, maybe when the season is over we're just going to go away for somewhere and just enjoy the year with our own selves, and that's what I'm going to do with my wife, my coach, my boy, the people that have been responsible for my great playing. We're going to do that once the season is over. I'll probably go to Hawaii. Probably do it after the Grand Slam maybe, stay over there for a while and do that.

Q. What is your exercise regime that you referred to?

VIJAY SINGH: It's a whole routine. I haven't done anything this week because my trainer is not here, but I'm going to start this evening. What I normally do is on a Tuesday, I start on Tuesday, I do an hour warmup in the morning and do a stretching workout, and come back in the evening and do a whole routine of work according to what body part I'm working whether it's lower body, leg, back, shoulders or arms. It's a whole week workout. I always talk Sundays off. It just became part of my habit, you know, if I don't do it, I feel bad. If I do it, I feel tired. But once I keep doing it, it just becomes part of my routine.

It just helps me so much more with my golf game, it's incredible. I feel so much more stronger when I'm playing and towards the end of the week, I just don't feel tired. I feel like I can go on as long as you have to go on. So that's pretty much what it's been like.

Q. Do you still practice as much as you used to?

VIJAY SINGH: No, I still practice a lot. I have not changed my routine. But it's just a little bit more constructive now. I know what to work on. You know, ten years ago I would go on the range, 12 years ago, whatever time, I would just beat balls and figure out how to hit shots for that day or for that week.

Now, I know how my swing is going and I know how to work on my golf swing and I know how to fix my golf swing. When I'm practicing, I'm always working on little things. At this point in time, I feel that I have got that down and I have not changed anything in the last two years according to my golf swing. I know exactly what I'm working on. I think it's just coming so much closer to where I want it to be that I don't really think about it too much. I go and hit balls on the range like I did before coming here Monday, and I spent three hours on the range. That was more than enough time, because once you start swinging, you know exactly what you're doing and the ball is going where you're aiming it.

So you don't need to spend more time there and start hitting bad shots. Once you've done what you need to do, you just leave.

Q. Can you approximate how many balls you might hit at one time between say five years ago and now?

VIJAY SINGH: You don't really count but I would spend, you know -- you stand on the range and hit four hour's worth of balls, stick to one club and not change, if you stand four hour's worth or five hour's worth, that's a hell of a lot of balls, you know. Just to stand there for an hour, it's a hell of a lot of balls.

Now I go through the whole bag, I stand there for two hours, three hours and hit 14 clubs, 13 clubs. I'm spending more times on the shorter irons than the longer irons. If I hit 20 balls with a 4-iron, that's as much as I'm going to hit in one day with a 4-iron. So probably three or four drivers, three or four 3-woods, because once you hit two or three good shots, you don't really need to stand there and keep on hitting.

Q. Can you comment on Dave Renwick�s contribution to your success?

VIJAY SINGH: Dave was a long-time friend. He was caddying for me three years before. He's just a hard worker. He's there and he's very grumpy most of the time but in a good way. He's all for me and he doesn't want anyone to beat me, which is a very good thing to have. And he'll let you know if you're doing something wrong. I mean, he will cut you up, give you a talk that sometimes it's not good or at the wrong time. But he's there and he's a very good clubber. When you ask him a question, he's a very definite -- he's got a definite way of saying it to you that, hey, go ahead and hit this club; or if he doesn't like it, he'll tell you, he's not going to hold back.

But the caddie is as good as the player, and I proved it twice this year; my trainer caddied for me on two occasions and I won both times. The last tournament I played, I won with my trainer. So, you know, Dave is the caddie and coming down the stretch. I think that, you know, it's always nice to have someone there. I'm pretty happy with his work and I guess he's happy with what he's been rewarded with.

Q. He once sacked a player � do you think he�d do that to you?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, he'd be sorry if he did. (Laughter.) I've known Dave ever since I came to Europe, gosh, 15 years ago. I think the first time I played here was '88, and he was caddying for Olazabal at that time and Jose Maria at that time was one of the best players out here. He's a hearty guy, and caddying for Ollie, it's pretty hard to caddie for him.

Q. What has been his reaction when you�ve won this year without him on the bag?

VIJAY SINGH: He's been good. I've won six times with Davy this year and most of them have been large tournaments. It's good. Though he would have loved to be on the bag with me, still that's pretty good. He doesn't mind. In that sense he's been very, very good with me.

Q. What's your trainer's name?

VIJAY SINGH: Joey, I call him Joey-D. Joey-D is a good name to have.

Q. Is it correct you are designing a course in Fiji?

VIJAY SINGH: Yesterday, it's been some -- not far from where I grew up. I think the plans are already there. I'm going to go and visit in February. I'm going to take a lot of time and I want to make it a good one.

Q. Will that be combined with a junior golf programme there?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's all in the same plan. It's supposed to be a golf school coming up with that as well and an academy of some sort that can help golf in Fiji. I've spoken to my club manufacturer and they are willing to do whatever is possible to do all of that. That's early February when I'm going to be there. I don't know how long the project is going to take but I think they are breaking ground end of this year.

Q. What were your goals when you started playing golf?

VIJAY SINGH: Gosh, I think at that time, I just wanted to make some money and make a living. If you go there, to that part of the world, that is our aim is to make a living playing golf. And it's not easy when you don't have any money in your pocket trying to make a living, and he especially there's so many more talented players in Australia and hard to get into events. The goal was to make a living, make some money.

End of FastScripts.

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