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September 12, 2004

Vijay Singh


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Congratulations, Vijay, on being the 2004 Bell Canadian Open champion. You've won four out of the last five starts. It's been an incredible run. Why don't you just talk about that a little bit and then we'll go into questions.

VIJAY SINGH: It's unbelievable. It was very exciting all day. Unfortunately for Mike -- I spoke to him, and he played pretty well and he missed his chances coming in. It was a tough day. The pins were really tucked up and nobody was doing anything except for Mike was just holding his ground.

I played really well. I had really good chances coming in. I had a good opportunity to get up-and-down out of the bunker on 13 and I didn't and I was really frustrated with that. I three-putted 15 and made good chances on 17, as well, but the putt on 18, I needed to knock that in. It was hard to judge the distance coming in on 18, so I always knew if I made that putt on 18, I would have had a slight chance, and that's all I needed.

Q. I know the answer to this, but you wanted to win obviously, but do you feel at all, not bad, but sort of -- do you feel the weight that was on Mike and feel what didn't happen? Did you feel that while you were out there and after you won?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, I know how hard it is to win at home, especially with the crowd as vocal as what they were out there. They were really cheering not only for Mike but for everybody that was playing well, but towards the end they were really cheering for Mike. I hope they didn't get to him, but in my mind they must have affected him one way or the other, but I really do feel for Mike. He wanted to win this tournament bad, but that's the way golf goes. Somebody has to win.

Q. If you want to quickly give this golf course a grading this week, especially the last two days, what would you say about it?

VIJAY SINGH: It's really a tough golf course. I mean, you need to just play your shots. It got harder to play the golf course; it was running into the rough, and you would grade it way up there, if not a 7, maybe an 8. It plays like a true championship golf course. I was just talking to Jesper, they can hold The Presidents Cup here in no time. They have great viewing and it would be a great golf course for The Presidents Cup.

Q. Was there any time during the back nine where you felt that that was it, you were out of it? How were you feeling after you three-putted 15?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, 16 was no easy task to make a par there. That was a very tough putt coming down past the hole, and 17 if you missed the drive you could make a bogey easily, as well, and 18 was a good chance for eagle. Even after I three-putted 15, I was only two back, and I thought I needed to make one or two birdies coming in, at least two, and then I looked up, and Mike bogeyed 16. I think he three-putted from very short range.

You know, on this golf course anything can happen. If you miss one shot, you can get yourself into trouble, especially with the rough so long. I never one time thought I was out of it. Even at 18 I thought if I can make eagle it would be great, but I have to make birdie.

Q. Your work ethic has been well chronicled through your career, but from the mental part of the game, is your confidence in general in 2004 at the pinnacle and did it ever wane to date?

VIJAY SINGH: It goes with the way you play. I always said, the guys that are mentally strong are always guys that are playing well. If you're not playing well, obviously your mental side will be disturbed. You never see a great player going to a mental coach, it's always guys who are struggling.

Mentally I've always said I know what I'm doing out there. If I know where my focus is, I'm okay, and today my focus was on the golf course, and I'm playing well. When I'm swinging well, I feel like I'm thinking very well, and that's what happened out there. I wasn't at any time worried about what I was doing and what was going to go wrong or anything. I was always positive and always looking to make birdie, and that was my only thought out there was going forward.

Q. This final round had so many peaks and valleys; where one golfer gave an opening the other capitalized and vice versa. From a toughness factor how tough was this final round compared to some other championship battles you've had this year?

VIJAY SINGH: It was difficult for me because I wasn't making -- I wasn't taking the opportunities given to me coming in. 15 was the only bogey of the day except for the playoff, but I was always doing the catching up thing. I was always trying to get up there to Mike. If you're behind you can't be aggressive, and that's what I was doing. I never at one point was ahead. You know, I was always behind, and Mike took a 4-shot lead early on, and I was just hanging in there and trying to make birdies. That was my whole purpose out there.

I'm disappointed with the second shot on 18 that went over the green. I hit a wedge, gosh, 160 yards, and I never hit a wedge more than 135. It bumped up, and at the same time the wind, but I was just always catching up. That's the way I was aggressive, I guess.

Q. Earlier in the day when Rose and Lehmann shot the low numbers that they shot, you must have felt a little encouraged about what you could maybe do out there, but then over the last 39 holes you're 1-under and you managed to pull it out. Does that strike you as odd, that you only had to come to that number in order to pull this out?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, yeah, but, I mean, the last 31 holes I was how many under, though. You've got to get into position to be able to do that. I think there's more pressure when you're leading, more pressure to maintain your lead. That's where I thought Mike -- if he had not made those mistakes and had made birdies, he could have run away with it. If you're leading you're trying not to make any mistakes, and when you're doing that you're always trying not to do something instead of trying to do something.

That's why on the weekend you see the scores are never as good as the first two days because the first two days you're always charging and trying to get as far ahead as possible. I think that's what happened to Mike.

Also for me, it's always harder to play late. The greens are all chewed up and it gets firmer, the conditions are always tougher. That's why you don't see scores out of the ordinary on the last day with the last group unless somebody just goes crazy. I knew there was birdies out there, but it was tough. I saw some of the pin placements yesterday, and I knew nobody was going to run away with it. I stayed very focused and very patient.

Q. If there was 50,000 people here, 49,900 were pulling for Mike. Was that tough and did the crowd ever get to you?

VIJAY SINGH: No, but it was good -- they were cheering in a good way. They were not interfering with my play, they were not cheering against me, but they were cheering for Mike. There's a big difference there. Although on 15 when I missed the putt they all got excited, but that was understandable. I think my caddie overreacted by throwing a ball into the crowd, but I understood that.

You understand that's part of it. As long as they leave you alone and cheer for whoever they want to cheer for, that's fine. As long as it's not cheering against you; then there's a problem.

Q. What were you thinking on the 11th tee today?

VIJAY SINGH: That's a good one. I mean, I wasn't going to miss it left. That's what I told myself (laughter). I hit it in the right bunker and I said, I can always play out of the bunker, and that was fine. I should have done that all week. Driver is not the right play over there. I think you've got to hit a 3-iron or a 5-wood off the tee. If I come back here next time, that's my thought.

Q. Has being No. 1 in the world changed your mental outlook at all or is it just an ambition achieved?

VIJAY SINGH: It's only been a week (laughter). I don't think it's changed me at all. It's basically pumped me up a little bit more. You want to play well now. You don't want to let that position go. I mean, it's -- I'm going to try to hang onto it as much as possible. The only way you can hang onto it is by playing well and playing better than the rest of the guys, so it's going to be a hard task, but I'm going to see what I can do.

Q. Two moments in the playoff, I just wondered what you were thinking. When Weir hit the 5-iron, you gave him kind of a thumbs up as kind of an acknowledgment, and then when you missed your putt on 17, the second playoff hole, did you think he's going to nail it right in there?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I saw his lie, and with the position I was in, and I was down the middle and only had a 9-iron in my hand, I would have done the same thing. I would have gone for it any way I could have. The worst I was going to make was probably -- yeah. But it was a great shot. The good advantage for Mike was he was left-handed, otherwise he would have been standing in the bunker. All in all, it was one hell of a golf shot.

The other question, it was a tough one, but I never thought he was going to miss it. I thought earlier on he had a putt from the same direction and he two-putted. I was telling my caddie, "I know he knows the line," and I was pretty sure he was going to make the putt. I was surprised he didn't. I think he hit a good putt, he just misread it.

Q. You're only about $500,000 behind Tiger Woods' single season money record. Is that something you think about, something that's important to you? It seems inevitable that you'll probably break it with the events you have left.

VIJAY SINGH: Somebody mentioned that to me earlier on. Now I can think about it (laughter). We'll find out how I do in the next few events. I've still got five events in the U.S., two of them no-cut events, so I don't have to worry about -- I guess. I don't know, I'm playing well. I'm not going to back off. I'm going to come out the next few events trying to win the golf tournament. That's how I play, and I'm going to try to come out and win a few more events by the end of the year. If I do it, that's another story, but I'm going to be trying.

Q. When you look back on your season from today back, considering how tough it is to win out there, and you could probably win three or four more tournaments this year, if you haven't already locked up Player of the Year award, then there's something wrong, how do you see your success? Would you ever have imagined that you would have this kind of successful season?

VIJAY SINGH: When you start off the season -- I had a great start. I could have won the first event I played, but I still played well there and finished 2nd. Once you do that, you can get into a good frame of mind. But I won early, and you never think you're going to come out and be a multiple winner out here. To win one time is very tough. To win what I've done this year is incredible. I mean, not too many people win five events in a year, and I've won seven already. I haven't really thought about it. I haven't really sat down and really thought about what I have actually achieved.

I have a week off next week. It's incredible. It's a ride that I hope can go on forever, but I know it's going to come to an end sooner or later. It's great. I'm really overwhelmed with it, and it's something that I don't even -- I can't fathom how great it's been for me. I don't think in the beginning of the year I would have thought that I'd do something like this.

Q. I know what you said about coming from behind, but did you leave the golf course last night just a little bit upset that you wouldn't be in the final group today? Did that bother you at all, or did you feel like that was maybe even going to be an advantage based on the crowd?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it's always good to play with somebody that you're chasing. You put pressure on him. Maybe it was good. I can't really explain what the difference would have been. I always like to play with who I'm chasing. He wasn't too far behind. He was one hole behind me, and I knew what was going on. You know, I think for the crowd's sake, it may have been better for me to play ahead. Maybe for Mike, who knows, he maybe would have been better off playing with me. We play the same kind of golf, very aggressive, so it turned out okay for me, I guess.

Last night I was a little upset. I was still thinking about the 11th hole, how I can make another triple. I mean, I've never made -- I've made tripled before but not on the same hole in the same tournament twice. I don't know, you can't explain it.

Q. Mike talked about generally not feeling comfortable when he was on the greens and not being able to see the right lines. You're someone that's gone through some different putting styles this year and yet you've continued to have some success. I'm just curious about your thoughts about that skill of putting and the mindset and what contributes to doing it so well.

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I think everybody finds it difficult. There were greens out there that were two different textures. The 1st green was different than the 2nd green. I think the grass didn't grow in very well, and the greens down in the valley, you've got 11, 12, 13 and 15, they were not the same greens, so the speed was always -- people were struggling with the speed, and that's pretty much what happens. Then you go to 15, which is a very, very slow putt, to 16, which is probably one of the fastest putts out there. You've got to know all that beforehand to figure out how you're going to play your shots there.

But if you see your line, trust it and hit it. That's what my whole purpose on the greens is. You can't be over the ball and second-guessing yourself. You've got to see the line and hit the best putt you can, and that's what I've been doing for a while now.

Q. I'm guessing the closest you've been to Vancouver is Sahalee and you've had success there. Are you looking forward to Shaughnessy to defend in 05?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I played -- yeah, Air Canada two, three years ago, and I played pretty well, came in 4th or 3rd. I love Vancouver, I think it's one of the prettiest places to go. I almost bought a place there, but then somebody told me that they also have winter there (laughter). So I changed my mind very quickly.

I'm looking forward to playing there. I've heard a lot about the golf course and they say it's one of the better tracks in Canada, so I'm definitely looking forward to playing over there.

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

End of FastScripts.

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