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September 6, 2004

Vijay Singh


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Congratulations, Vijay, on winning the 2004 Deutsche Bank Championship, and also for becoming the new No. 1 in the world. Could you make a comment on that, please?

VIJAY SINGH: Thank you. (Laughter.) You guys look so sad. Man, come on, it's not the end of the world. (Laughter.)

No, it's great. I've worked pretty hard for this. I finally achieved what I wanted to do starting at the beginning of the year. It was a good win, as well. Coming down the stretch got pretty tight there, but got focused and I played pretty good coming down.

Q. Are you pleasantly surprised at all of the support that you had around the course? A lot of people might have suspected it might be all pro-Tiger; did you sense that?

VIJAY SINGH: You were listening to the wrong crowd then. (Laughter.) I think it was 95 percent Tiger and five percent for me. (Laughing). That's the way it was, yeah.

Q. You said this is something you've worked for, but does it mean more with Tiger at the top of his game today giving you a head-to-head challenge than if he had not played well as he had done at different times in the last couple of months?

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, I don't know, my main goal starting the day was to go out there and win the golf tournament. Tiger, you know, he came out, he played well; one bad shot on 2. But it got pretty tight. I think after the 10th hole, I was still 1-up or 2-up. He played well and made that great chip-in on No. 12, and I bogeyed 13.

So he was playing good. He wasn't playing poorly. It was a golf tournament to me. It wasn't about the ranking. It wasn't about going out there and trying to beat Tiger and beat the No. 1 player. I was out there trying to win the golf tournament and that was my goal starting out today.

You know, Adam Scott nearly jumped up and took it away, but I was very focused.

Q. When you got through nine and Tiger closed the gap to some extent, at one point four shots to one shot, can you talk about your mindset after you guys were tied?

VIJAY SINGH: That's why there's 18 holes. It's not just a nine-hole event. I was playing well. I was making the putts and I was rolling it pretty good. That birdie on 10 got me two ahead again. I think the putt on 14 kind of really pumped me up a little bit and then I birdied 15.

I was playing good. I wasn't playing badly. The bogey on 13, I just hit it on the green and I thought I hit it on a great second shot there, hit the flag and it went over. You need to make putts, you need to make crucial putts.

I made the putts that counted. The big putt was on 17, also. When I made that one, I said, you know, that's it. I can make par or make a bogey and still win the golf tournament and that's what happened.

Q. The feeling now, can you describe it, being No. 1 player in the world?

VIJAY SINGH: It probably hasn't sunk in yet. It was a goal from the beginning of the year. But like I said to the guys, that wasn't my goal coming over here. My goal was to come over here and win the golf tournament. This is the Deutsche Bank event, and that was my goal, to win the title.

You know, leading, coming into today, I felt very comfortable. Like I said, if you win, everything takes care of itself, and it did.

Q. What were you thinking about walking over the ridge on No. 1?

VIJAY SINGH: Nothing really. I was pretty peaceful, wanted to go out there and play a solid round of golf, not really thinking about much. Just trying to enjoy the day.

Q. Is it almost strange to you that now you're No. 1, and you're obviously playing the best golf of anyone this year; is it almost like, "What took them so long to realize"?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, two hours ago, I was not No. 1. So, I don't know what the feeling is. It's great to be ranked No. 1 player in the world but it can change next week. It can change in two weeks' time. I don't know how to feel.

It feels great to be; I thought I was playing good enough to be No. 1 for a while, but obviously the ranking, I kept telling you guys, I can't do anything about the ranking. Finally it's turned into my favor.

So, I don't know how long the ranking is going to favor me or anybody else. But it feels great right now and I'm really proud to achieve that.

Q. You don't feel any differently than you did two hours ago?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm the Deutsche Bank Champion and I'm really proud to be that. I'm really happy I won the golf tournament, yes.

Q. Can you take us back 30 years, just growing up and what you had to go through to get to where you are now?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't have that much time to explain all of it to you, but it feels great. I never thought I would be sitting here, the best player in the world right now. You know, it feels great, all of the hard work and all that I've come through, all of the people that have helped me through, I'd like to thank them. Obviously, it's been a journey and something that cannot be forgotten.

Q. Can you sum up what your journey has been like?

VIJAY SINGH: It was different from the very get-go. I didn't have sponsorship to get on TOUR. You need to make money week-in, week-out to get to the next week. It was just a whole struggle. That's the way to describe it.

But it was a good one, it's a good experience, and probably that's what made me where I am today.

Q. I imagine you have a favorable impression of a course when you win a tournament, but can you talk about the difference from last year to this? I heard you say last year that you are definitely coming back.

VIJAY SINGH: It's done a huge change to it. They have softened all of the big mounds on the greens and some of the collection areas on the golf course, too. A big change to No. 9. They did a hell of a good job to make it what it is now, and I'm sure they are going to do a few more for next year. It's a very playable golf course. I think a lot of guys enjoyed playing it, a lot different from last year. And I definitely enjoyed playing it this year more than last year.

Q. David Duval talked about the fact that when he got to No. 1, he felt like he had been No. 1 for a long time. Throwing out the rankings, do you feel like in your own mind, do you feel like somewhere around February or March when you were playing as well as you were just before San Diego that you felt like you were playing well enough to be No. 1 in your mind?

VIJAY SINGH: I think when I won AT&T, and then I won two in a row, New Orleans and then Houston, I was playing good enough. I was close to Tiger at that time.

Yeah, I feel I'm the best player in the world, I feel that all the time, I've got to feel that. But you cannot really go out and emphasize that because it's not true; the ranking shows. But I've been playing good enough golf to be No. 1 player in the world.

Golf is such an incredible game that any one time, anybody can be No. 1 player in the word. You've got Ernie. You've got Phil right now; he could say he's the best player in the world; and Ernie, it's the same thing. It's hard to really go out there and say, hey -- you have got to follow some criteria, and the ranking is the only way that we can do that.

Q. To follow that up, could you anticipate at least under the ranking system being No. 1 for 264 weeks?

VIJAY SINGH: That's pretty hard to figure that one. You know, Tiger has been playing good golf. He's played incredible golf for last five years, six years. Who knows, he could go out there next time and regain that. And taking nothing away from anybody but Tiger, but Tiger has proven that he has been No. 1 player in the world for a long, long time, and even today.

Q. What was the gallery situation; was that a distraction?

VIJAY SINGH: You don't hear too many of it. I didn't hear most of it when I was playing.

You know, you can't help but hear a lot of it. I try to block out most of it and mostly I can, but I enjoy playing with Tiger. It's intense. He's a very intense player and he makes you know that. So you just have to go out there and play your own game and try to beat him and that's the only way to play.

Q. With all of the pro-Tiger fans, or was there anything negative toward yourself?

VIJAY SINGH: No, there was pretty much pro-Tiger. There was a lot of fans cheering for me, too, there's no doubt about that. There was a lot of guys out there. I guess it was, you know, like I said, it was 95 percent Tiger, maybe I'm exaggerating, but there were a lot of fans out there for me and loyal friends. It was fun.

I went through that in Buick in Flint, Michigan. I played with John Daly and he's like that, but even more. It was intense. It was actually fine and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the moment and I enjoyed being there. I can say that whatever happened, I played in a field that it wasn't given to me; I had to win it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Vijay, can we go through your round, please.

VIJAY SINGH: I bogeyed 2. I hit driver, 5-iron into the hazard. Dropped it and hit it about 15 foot and 2-putted.

6, I hit a driver, 8-iron to the bunker. Blasted out about ten feet and made that.

10th, I hit a 5-wood, pitching wedge about four feet.

13, I hit driver, 8-iron over the green and chipped it about eight feet.

15, I hit a 3-wood, pitching wedge about four feet.

17, I hit a 3-wood, pitching wedge about 20, 25 foot. 18, I hit driver, 4-iron just over the green and putted to about three feet and made that.

Q. Talking about the difficult issue of starting out on any tour and golf in general, and yet you've won ten times in two years, do you consider your career as overachieving from where you were, or do you consider because of how well you're playing, you're underachieving and you still have more to gain?

VIJAY SINGH: That's a hard question. It's so hard to get on this tour. I'm really over the moon, to win 20, 21 times in my career, I never thought I'd do that. And to have done most of that in the last two years -- and I may have been playing better golf. I'm always striving to hit good shots, and that's why I practice so much.

You know, the way I played yesterday and the day before yesterday, I pretty much cannot play any better than that, but that's how I want to play all the time.

I don't know. It's a tough question. Maybe I deserve all the wins the way I've been practicing and the way I've been playing. I know last year I could have won a lot more tournaments than I did. But those are the things that it comes back to me, when you have a chance to win and you throw it away.

I think what kept me going was times that I was in position to win major events and I gave it away. Last year I did that a few times and that kind of kept me going. Makes you want to practice and win more majors.

Q. After 12 and 13, the chip-in, what were you thinking when that goes in?

VIJAY SINGH: That was a hell of a chip, I'm telling you. I thought I hit a great shot from the rough to get to where I was. I had a good lie. When that went in, I still had a chance to tie him. I thought I hit a good putt.

But you cannot let those things really affect the way you think or affect the way you play. If you do that, then, you know, you defeat it right there. I was really focused on what I was doing. I was still up when that went in, I was still up. At no point was I really worried. The worst thing that could have happened to me was to not win the golf tournament. You look at it that way, you can't lose.

And I'm out there trying my hardest, and it wasn't easy, with the fans, with the way Tiger was playing, the way Adam was coming up, it was just a hard day. Being in the lead for almost the whole week, it's hard work staying up there. I was focused and I was playing well and I believed in myself.

Q. In a couple of months when this season is over and maybe you're reflecting back on what happened, what do you think you will be more pleased with, the great number of wins, the attaining the No. 1 ranking or winning the major?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I think you cannot really pick out one particular week or one particular win. I think you have to have a look at the whole thing and say, that's been a great season. I've achieved what I wanted to do, I won a major, I won quite a lot of tournaments, won by 20th event on TOUR and at the same time became No. 1 player in the word.

You have to look at the whole season, the whole, you know, the whole ballgame. That's what I'm going to do. The whole season has been a great one so far. So I don't think -- if I don't win anymore tournaments from here in, I'm still going to be very satisfied.

Q. When Tiger started his streak at No. 1 -- inaudible?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, yeah, you've got to play well to not be overlooked. If you're not playing well, you're not going to be in a position to take charge. Els has been playing great. We're not out trying to be No. 1 player in the world; we are out there every week to try to win golf tournaments and that is our real goal. I'm going to tee it up next week and I'm going to have the same thing I did this week, trying to win the golf tournament.

You know, that's -- in the meantime, you know, there's the World Ranking and like Tiger said it very well, you play good enough and win golf tournaments, everything is going to take care of itself.

Q. Over time people have talked about players, maybe you, other players were intimidated by Tiger, was there ever a time when you or others were not intimidated by him or is that just people misreading?

VIJAY SINGH: No, he's a very intimidating player. He hits shots that most people can't hit. That's why he's been the No. 1 player for the last five years. But it really depends on how you play. If you're playing against Tiger and you're not playing well and he's playing great, you look like a fool. But if you're playing good against him -- and I've always said, it doesn't matter who it is, if I'm playing my best, I can beat anybody and that's the way I think. I have never been one who is intimidated by Tiger. But then again if you are playing poorly, it is intimidating to play against him when he is playing so well, and he doesn't play badly too often. He's the kind of a player, that he's an aggressive player and he hits shots that you think, wow, that's the way all of us should play.

Q. Does a season like this change your expectations of your abilities going into something like next season?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it's going to be a hard one to follow-up. But you've got to be focused. At the end of the season, I have a lot of off-season things to do, but once I start off, it's going to be a new year. It's going to be a new season and you've got to refocus on what you're doing. I'm going to work pretty hard to get my focus up again and be ready. It's going it be a hard season to follow on and I just hope I can do the same or get close to it.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay. Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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