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September 8, 2004

Vijay Singh


JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Congratulations, again on your sixth victory this year and also your position as the new No. 1 in the world. Make a couple of comments on your emotions over the last couple of days, taking over that spot and how well you played this year.

VIJAY SINGH: I would say I've played really well. So far I feel really comfortable with what I'm doing, I feel great coming over here this week. I feel like I will contend for the title again this week. That's how my thoughts are.

My emotions from winning last week, more than taking the No. 1 spot, it was so grueling in the last day, and when you're playing at that stage, I'm not thinking about the No. 1 spot, I was more into trying to win the golf tournament, which I did and it took care of the other half of it. I haven't had a chance to celebrate yet. When I go back home next week, I will obviously celebrate.

Q. With the passage of two days, has your perspective changed a bit taking the No. 1 ranking?

VIJAY SINGH: Not really. It's the same. It's all on a paper. I myself thought I was the best player in the world for a while. That has not changed the way I think. But when you show up this morning, it's another golf tournament and you've got to take that totally out of your mind, and nobody out there really cares who is number one when you tee it up. You want to win a golf tournament. My mindset is that way, although it's a great honor to be that, but you've got to make sure where your focus is, and this week is the Bell Canadian Open.

Q. You come from a non sort of traditional golf country in the sense that it hasn't produced a lot of players or perhaps you're the only one. It's been a long journey for you. You played in Africa and all over Asia and Europe. Can you talk a little bit about what it's been like for 20 or so years over two decades to get this far?

VIJAY SINGH: We don't have that much time. It's been a great journey and I'm really, really proud to be where I am right now. It's been a grueling journey. It's had its ups and downs and I wouldn't change it for anything else. It's a great experience.

Q. You've probably been asked this a few times, but your run this year and really your play for the past couple of years, is there one thing you can put your finger on that's really turned this on for you, because you've really steamed your way to the front of the pack over the past, say, 36 months. Is there anything you can come back to and say this happened or this happened, I changed this, and it brought me to here?

VIJAY SINGH: It's more consistency. I would say my golfing just got better and better. I was working on the same things for a couple years, and I just got into a groove where I just kind of get off it, and hopefully I don't. I've been working with my putting as well. I won three tournaments early on in the year, I was putting really well and then I started putting poorly. For the last four weeks, five weeks, I've been putting incredible. I've been making four or five footers more times than none, and that's why my birdies have gone up as well.

I've been driving the ball beautifully as well. If you set yourself up on every hole, you're going to get a lot of looks at birdies and when you do that a lot of times you're going to shoot low numbers.

Q. I would imagine in the weeks leading in, Tiger Woods probably felt you coming on strong. It's only been a few days but now you're the No. 1 ranked person in the world, do you now get the sense you're the chased rather than the chaser?

VIJAY SINGH: I haven't had a chance to think about that one. It's probably going to be that. Whoever is going to be on top, is going to feel like they're going to be caught. And sooner or later I'm going to be caught, it's only natural that somebody else is going to take over the spot. I'm not thinking about this at this point. If I go out there this week and play well like I think I can, I don't know if I'll win this week or not, and I'm playing a lot of events from here in. I'm not going to sit home and hope my ranking stays the same. I'll play a lot of tournaments and hopefully I'll win a few more tournaments. I'm not worried about anybody catching me. If they do, they will be playing good enough golf. My goal out there is to win more golf tournaments. If I do that, I will stay on top.

Q. Can you share with us maybe some of the reaction from back home? Do you have any indication what it's been like in your home country?

VIJAY SINGH: My wife called me up and said you had a fax from Fiji. They recognize I'm a citizen from Fiji still. It's only been two days and I'm still trying to get over the fact that I'm so tired right now from playing Monday and then Tuesday, yesterday, very early in the morning, and had to get up again this morning. I haven't even had a chance to relax. And I have a week off next week and that's probably when I'm going to sit down and everything is going to sink in.

Q. You talk about it's been a long journey for you to get to No. 1, and I know you say it's more something on paper, but can you appreciate being No. 1 a little bit more, given the fact that the uphill journey that it took you to get to this point, the 20 plus years?

VIJAY SINGH: Even fellow pros, a lot of them have been playing good golf all year, or maybe for the last 15 months. They all said you should be No. 1, but it wasn't really on the rankings, but now they come up and congratulate me. I feel it more that way than myself. There's a lot more players coming up, and everybody it reminds me I'm the No. 1 player in the world. In that way I felt more than for myself, because I always thought the rankings did not justify the way I played, and but now since I got it up there, guys that have been coming up to me, a lot of people, it's only two days so far, but it's kind of made me feel a lot bigger anyway, in my own mind.

Q. Looking at your six victories this year, so many different ways, two Monday victories, a couple by two and three shots, going an entire final round not making a birdie and then making it when you needed it most. Is that a testament to your high, high standards you place yourself on for practicing and the hours that you put in on the range and things like that, because so many guys see you doing that and they know you're putting in the time, it's so clearly evident because they see you all the time.

VIJAY SINGH: So what was the question?

Q. I'm asking, do you attribute your success this year to all that practice that you're putting in?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I'm level headed no matter what happens out there. I had not made a birdie all day and I never got ahead myself. I wasn't going out there and trying to attack the pins or trying to catch Justin who was ahead after the back nine or going into the back nine. You have to be patient. All that experience from before kind of showed up. It's an 18 hole event and you can't get ahead of yourself. You just have to maintain the way you play, think clearly and keep going. That's the way I've been doing it.

Last week, for instance, the last day, Tiger caught me on the 13th or 12th hole, I kept very hole and I said there's many holes to go. The way I was playing, the way I've been playing, you just have to believe in that. I haven't won five events, that's the way I think, I haven't won five events by playing lucky golf, I've been playing good enough golf to win, and I wasn't behind, I was still in the lead so that kind of got me through.

Q. You mentioned that you're taking obviously next week off with the Ryder Cup, will you be paying much attention? Have you looked a year down the road to the Presidents Cup, the way that that International side is forming now, it's becoming an impressive lineup, obviously with what you're doing and with Retief Goosen, Stephen Ames has developed this year, Adam Scott. I'm wondering if you could maybe address how good that team is shaping up right now.

VIJAY SINGH: It's still two years away, or a year away. It's very hard to think about it right now. I haven't thought about it. The team is really, really strong. But you stop thinking about the team and it's three or four months out. Right now, we have a very strong team.

Talking about the Ryder Cup next week, surely I'll be watching. I'm a great fan of golf and watching golf. I remember a few years ago I was in London, we spent the whole three days watching golf in a sports bar with my wife. I like watching golf. I like good competition and I'll be watching next week.

Q. For somebody who's legendary for their practice regimen, you seem to be at the top of your game yet you're still out there for hours on the range, and I'm sure you will be tomorrow morning. What will be you working on or what do you feel you need to improve?

VIJAY SINGH: The easier part is getting to the top, the hardest part is staying up there. You have to maintain the way you play and you have to maintain the standard of your game. I'm not going to go out there and just warm up and go play. I'll be working on the same things I've been working on the last two years and make sure nothing bad cuts in.

After all this, I will have lunch and go out and practice; practice my short game, practice my putting, things I need fixing out there. It's a longtime affair and it hasn't stopped yet.

Q. Will it be the same ritual or is there something in particular you want to work on this week?

VIJAY SINGH: Same thing. I think it's working so far pretty good, so I'm not about ready to change that.

Q. I understand that it was in South Africa and it was Ernie Els, but do you have any regrets your name wasn't in the envelope at the Presidents Cup?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I think Ernie was playing the best golf at that time. We all thought he would be the best guy for the team. I was glad that he was the one.

Q. Mike Weir was differentiating in 2000 when Tiger was peaking, let's say, although he's peaked for his whole career, he was running away from the field, where as you are dominating now by working very hard every week. What's more gratifying do you think for a golfer, to win through the hard work and go head to head and beat them almost every shot or run away and hide the way Tiger was?

VIJAY SINGH: If I can, I would run away and hide. That's the ultimate goal, I think, to be able to beat the field that no one can catch you. That's the whole attitude out there. If you're 1 up, you want 2; if you're 2 up, you want 4. If I had my choice I would win golf tournaments by 10 every week. That's not going to happen. The guys are so much better and they're not scared of everybody. I think the standard of play now is so much higher than it was five or six years ago. Everybody is so much better. The equipment is so much better now, the ball is going farther. It doesn't matter who's long now. Everybody hits the ball a fairly good distance. I played the golf course today, and they have lengthened it, but it just doesn't play longer than it did five years ago. That tells you nobody is capable of dominating like Tiger did probably 5, 4 years ago. It's not going to happen anymore, I don't think.

JOAN v.T. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay.

End of FastScripts.

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