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WGC NEC INVITATIONAL


August 18, 2004


Vijay Singh


AKRON, OHIO

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome PGA champion Vijay Singh. Vijay, congratulations on your win, fifth of the year. Maybe we'll get some comments about playing on Sunday and playing in the playoff and your great win.

VIJAY SINGH: I thought we were supposed to concentrate on this week (laughter).

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll touch on both.

VIJAY SINGH: I'm still excited about last week's win. It was good playing on Sunday. I didn't play that badly, I just didn't score as I wanted to. The putter kind of got cold, didn't make much putts, but playing with Justin was probably a blessing because he was always in the lead and I never was two shots away at any point. So I just kind of kept as close as I could to him and it ended up he dropped two shots coming in, and that was the reason why I got into a playoff. He said he dropped a shot on the last hole, but fortunately for me I was right there.

Q. You have another week this week, a World Golf Championships event at the NEC Invitational. You just finished a round. Maybe talk about the golf course a little bit.

VIJAY SINGH: It's probably the best condition I've ever seen the golf course in. The greens are faster than I've ever seen them. A lot longer. I think they extended every tee box out there without letting us know. I think every tee box is either ten yards or five yards or four yards, but they're all further back, even the par 3s. It just plays so much longer. If the wind blows it's going to be a long golf course. You have to drive the ball pretty straight here.

The winning score isn't going to be that low. I think it's going to be a high winning score this year.

Q. How about the change on No.  2? How did you play No.  2?

VIJAY SINGH: It's gotten longer, but at the same time it's an easier driving hole, I think. Guys that used to fade the ball off the tees, you don't have to worry about the right bunker, you can just take it straight. It's a good hole. It used to be¬† ‑‑ if the wind was into you, you could hit a driver and a 9 and today I had to hit a driver and kill a 3‑wood to get up there, so it's a lot longer. A lot of guys are not going to be able to reach, and if you drop it in front of the green, the ball rolls all the way off the back of the green.

No.¬† 11 now, that's 40 yards back, and instead of hitting a driver, little flick sand wedge or a 3‑wood and a pitching wedge, I hit driver and a 7‑iron today. It was pretty strong into the wind. It's going to be a pretty good test.

Q. How do you take such a positive experience like winning the PGA a week ago and make it even more so of a positive here for you this week?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, obviously my confidence is pretty high. You've got to focus on this week, though. Last week was a great, great win for me, but you've got to switch your mind off from last week and refocus yourself on this week.

There's a lot of people coming up to you and congratulating you, so you've got to not let that get into your head. It's positive that they're all doing that. At the same time I have to be focused on this week. A different golf course, pretty much the same players, but totally different setup. I just have to refocus myself and play this week.

Q. What feedback, if any, have you had from Fiji since you won?

VIJAY SINGH: About?

Q. Have you heard from anyone there?

VIJAY SINGH: About the win?

Q. Yeah.

VIJAY SINGH: Nothing yet. I haven't been back home. Probably a lot of faxes and calls coming to the house, but I haven't been back home yet. Really nothing yet. My family called obviously and congratulated me, but they all called home, so I get the messages that way.

Q. Were your parents able to watch you play?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm sure they did. My mom is in Australia and my dad in New Zealand, so I'm sure they did watch it back there.

Q. Does this tournament give you kind of an indication of how¬† ‑‑ you have to be a complete player I would think to win here. Does this show you kind of who's hot, who's not?

VIJAY SINGH: It's such a monster of a golf course right now. Every hole is¬† ‑‑ you can't lay your guard down anymore. I think this is one of the toughest holes now. The 8th hole used to be a tough hole before now. Now it's the toughest hole out there. It's going to be a good test of golf. You cannot go out there and play not your best and feel like you're going to come out in front. You've got to putt well.

The greens are very fast and firm, so it's going to take a good game to shoot well here.

Q. Do you enjoy playing here?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I always did.

Q. Why is that?

VIJAY SINGH: It's a good test of golf. I mean, you've got to drive the ball very straight. The greens are not very big, so you have to have¬† ‑‑ your approaches should be very precise. The rough is long. It's just a nice test of golf, and I like golf courses where you need to play hard. This week you have to play hard. The winds are up today, and gosh, we'll be doing good to break par here.

Q. With the World Rankings where they are right now and the Player of the Year factoring in, is there more pressure this week?

VIJAY SINGH: Pressure, I don't think so. You know, I'm focused on this week. I really don't care about the World Ranking anymore. I think it's¬† ‑‑ let the ranking guys take care of that. Player of the Year, I think I've got it pretty much sealed off unless somebody goes out there and wins three or four or five events in a row. I just have to keep playing the way I'm doing and I think I should be all right with that.

I think Phil has got the only chance if he wins maybe three, four are five tournaments, he's probably the one that can throw me off that. Apart from that, I think I've got it pretty much sealed.

Q. Why is it you don't really care about the world golf rankings?

VIJAY SINGH: It's not that I don't care. I just think it doesn't favor the guy who plays a lot of golf, a lot of tournaments. Unless I go out there and play every week and play well every tournament I enter, which is almost impossible to do, my average will never be that good. I have more points, I gain more points this year, I won more tournaments, but I think my average is still pretty low. It just doesn't get up to a point like Tiger's or Ernie's. They've got to come up with a system where playing more doesn't matter.

Q. Vijay, with your ascendancy to No.  1 World Ranking and the Player of the Year, at one point you said those were important to you. Do you think that you now have a bigger responsibility to golf and the PGA Tour to try to make it like Tiger had? Tiger had this situation where he was always trying to do things. The writers would want to talk to Tiger all the time, the fans would want to see Tiger, the television audiences would get bigger because of Tiger? Do you think you have that responsibility to try to grow the game, as well?

VIJAY SINGH: I try that not only now, but I've been trying to do that ever since I joined the Tour. I respect the Tour. I think that's where I make my living. I did everything possible to make it right. Obviously some comments that I made in the past was over‑exaggerated and didn't do me any favors. That kind of put me off a lot of things. I didn't want to deal with the media for a while just because everything I said was taken the wrong way. Not that every one of you did that; just a few of you (laughter).

I have responsibilities, and I'd like to do good to the game. The game of golf has done me wonders. It's brought me up here where I don't think I ever would have been. I have responsibilities, too, to the Tour. I mean, the Tour gives me a place to make a living. I'm doing the best I can, and the ranking is one, if I get to the No.  1 position, I don't know how I can do any more than what I'm doing now to improve my relationship with the media. I'm doing all I can. It's up to you guys to prop me up there. I mean, I cannot speak to every guy out there. I have a responsibility to play well. I have an agenda, as well, and my agenda is to come out there, practice hard and try to do the best I can, and in the meantime have time to come and speak to you all. I don't think Tiger does that every week, either. I mean, he does speak to you guys, but not like he did at the beginning.

It's a hard game out there. It's not a free ride. I have to do my part and you guys have to do yours. We've got to help each other out here.

Q. Vijay, I think from a purely competitive standpoint, you're out here to win. If you happen to finish ahead of Tiger and you do get that one‑tenth of a point that separates you guys, where would that fall as far as being motivated to do that, and also, it would be an accomplishment, wouldn't it?

VIJAY SINGH: Sure. I said in the beginning of the year that my goal before I finish playing should be to finish No.  1. You know, I want to finish No.  1. I want to be the No.  1 player in the world, but I cannot help that if the ranking doesn't help me. I've won five events this year. I won four last year, I think, and I'm doing my part, and I'm doing the best I can to get that position. Somehow the other ranking is not helping me get up there.

But it's an achievement that I only want to finish No.  1, and if I can do that, that would be great. That will be the No.  1 goal for me, to win a major, win the Money List and the Player of the Year at the same time and be No.  1 in the world. I'm very close, but my focus this week is this tournament. If I can pull this one off, then I'll probably take the rest of the year off (laughter).

Q. Because the rankings are set up the way they are, isn't it even a little bit more of an accomplishment because you've played in so many events?

VIJAY SINGH: It is. I mean, it's not only the ranking; the stroke average is pretty high, too. I play every week and the stroke average does not justify how many tournaments I play. The whole stats is different.

If a guy goes out there¬† ‑ the all‑around ranking¬† ‑ if a guy goes out there and plays 15 events and I play 27 events, the all‑around ranking, I have to play so much better to get the stats up there, it just does not justify playing a lot of golf tournaments. It's great on the Money List, but the rest of the stats, I don't think it justifies it.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Vijay Singh, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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