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June 10, 2004

Vijay Singh


CHRIS REIMER: First round leader Vijay Singh; 63 ties the best first round ever here at the Buick Classic in '93, 1995 Buick Classic champion. Great round today. Talk a little bit about your day.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I played really well obviously, drove the ball really straight. I attacked the golf course from the getgo with a drive off 10 and just never held back. I just played beautifully, hit a lot of shots close, which took away a lot of pressure from my putter, and when you do that you're going to shoot low.

Q. Is there an indication that this round was coming on the range when you were hitting balls? Did you feel that you were in a groove?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been swinging the club really well for two, three weeks now and just the putter was letting me down. I'd keep going back home and look back and say what went wrong, why do I keep shooting 72s and 73s. If you don't make the putts you're not going to shoot low.

Today was different. I went out there and hit a lot of shots close, mostly tap-in birdie putts, six of them actually. So when you do that, you can shoot low.

Q. Was it your intention coming into this week to hit drivers often?

VIJAY SINGH: It's a good warm-up for next week. It's a tight driving golf course, and to hit drivers this week, to be driving the ball well going into next week, you're going to have a lot more confidence, and fortunately I drove the ball really well today and I'm just going to keep on doing the same unless something drastic happens. And also the golf course, if you hit the driver well, you have a lot of wedges and sand wedges in if you hit it on the fairway, and that's what I did all day.

Q. You seem to have a good track record here. You've won here before. Is there something about the golf course that you like?

VIJAY SINGH: It's a ball striker's golf course. It's a lot different than what we played a few years ago. Normally it's really wet, and today was just nice. The wind died, as well, and you love the setup. You need to hit good shots here to score well. Tough greens, but I somehow hit on the correct sides today.

Q. I noticed last night you spent a lot of time on the putting green with tees. What in particular was -- you were mentioning your putting; was there something you were working on particularly there?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I've been doing that drill for a long time now. I just needed to work a little bit longer, I guess.

Q. Did you have a number? It looked like you were trying to make 50 in a row.

VIJAY SINGH: No, I was just trying to make a lot of putts, just see the ball go in the hole. I needed to do that. I have been slacking on the putt side, and my back wasn't the greatest when I putted a lot, so I thought, forget it, I'm just going to go out there and putt a lot until I feel comfortable.

Q. I couldn't stay the whole time you were there.

VIJAY SINGH: I was there for about an hour or so.

Q. Even at your high level, is there a confidence factor when you shoot a round like this?

VIJAY SINGH: Oh, yeah, you definitely get a lot more confidence. I haven't shot low for, you know, five weeks, I guess, four weeks, so this is a good way to start off a tournament. I'm really looking forward to the next three days. I'm playing well, shooting the club really well and shooting a good number like this gives you a lot more confidence going into tomorrow.

Q. On that note, what do you have to do for the next three days?

VIJAY SINGH: Shoot three 8-unders and I think I'll be okay. I don't know, I'm just not going to think about a score. I think I'm going to go out there and try to do what I did today. I was very relaxed. I just let my swing happen, not trying to force anything. The key is don't leave yourself on the wrong side of the holes. I tried to keep below the holes mostly all day.

Q. I think you had like five or six within ten feet today, so that makes it real easy, but do you feel like you are putting better now, excluding those putts? Did you feel like you were still putting better than you had been the last couple of weeks?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. Even last week, I had trouble timing the greens, but I was putting well. My caddie kept saying "good putt," "good putt," all day, but it wasn't going in. You just have to be patient enough to know that you're stroking the ball well and it's going to go in sooner or later, just picking the right line is the key.

From three, four feet you can't pick too many bad lines, but I putted really well today, too. I made some nice eight-footers, which is pretty hard on these greens. To make those ones I think you must be putting well. I feel I'm stroking it well. I don't feel any tension in my stroke or anything like that. I just must let it happen and that's probably what I was not doing.

Q. Do you ever find when you're confident in your putting does it affect the rest of your game? You say, well, I don't have to hit eight perfect shots?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, last week since I wasn't making any putts, you try to creep towards the pin side and towards the short side. When you're going for the flag and there's water or a hazard nearby, if you just miss it you're going to make bogeys and doubles and that's what's been happening. When you're stroking the ball well and not worried about making 15-footers you can actually take it right to the pin, and that's what's been happening. Today I just said, forget it, play safe, get a plan going and hit it to the correct side of the holes.

Q. When you're playing this tournament do you allow yourself to think at all about next week or are you just focused on --

VIJAY SINGH: It's difficult to think about next week when I think come Sunday afternoon we'll probably be thinking about it. Right now my focus is strictly on this tournament, and it is a big event.

Q. I know that you've had a busy schedule, but have you had a chance to play Shinnecock in the recent past?

VIJAY SINGH: Oh, I was talking to Mike Weir, he played it and he filled me up a little bit. They lengthened three holes, 3, 4 and 8 quite a lot. He said he hit driver, 3-wood on 18. It's going to play tough. We just have to go there with a good frame of mind and know it's going to be a tough golf course.

Q. You actually bogeyed the first hole for a 63. When you came out of the second hole, did you have a different mindset at the beginning of the day and then after that did you change or was it always the same mindset all the way around?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I wasn't thinking about the score as such. I thought if I could get to 4-under that would be nice because 7-under was leading. But I had a good chance on 10. I hit it in the front bunker and had a little bunker shot and hit it eight feet, maybe less than that, missed that putt, and then hit a great second shot on 2. I didn't hit bad shots to make bogeys, I just made a bogey. I was playing well, didn't think about a score, just kept going, buried the next ones and went on from there.

Q. You said you played obviously very well the rest of the year except for putting, and right now there's probably four fellows who could claim to be in there: Yourself, Phil, Ernie, Tiger. How have you seen this transpire over the last couple of years and if you were a betting guy who would you bet on?

VIJAY SINGH: The way I played today I would bet on myself (laughter). It's difficult to say. Any given week any of us could play well. Ernie played great last week, Tiger has been playing well almost every week, and Phil has had a great year. I'm not too far behind, either. The four of us, not taking anything away from anybody else, we've just been playing very consistently good golf. Now you can see Ernie is going to play a lot more tournaments here, hopefully, but if he plays here often we can really see who the top player is. If he's playing Europe and coming over here, it's hard to determine what's going on.

At the moment I think all four of us are playing really good golf. It's hard to say week in and week out who's No. 1, but I still go with the rankings really.

Q. I think I heard you say you're using a new driver. When did you take the change and how do you like the new one?

VIJAY SINGH: It's not really a new one, it's been in my bag for a while. You kind of take out one each week and see what's happening. This is a new driver that I felt like I could drive the ball much straighter. I used it for the first round last week and put it away because I didn't drive it any good after that.

You know, it's just another driver. If you're swinging well you can hit anything straight.

CHRIS REIMER: Real quick just go through your clubs on your birdies.

VIJAY SINGH: Let me see that.

Starting on 2, I hit driver, L-wedge about eight feet.

3, I hit driver, sand wedge about five feet.

4, I hit 3-wood, sand wedge about a foot.

5, I hit 3-wood, 3-wood just short of the green, chipped it about four feet.

7, I hit driver, chipped it about a foot.

9, I hit driver, 3-iron in the bunker, blasted out about two feet.

11, 3-wood, 5-iron in the bunker, blasted out about eight feet, missed it.

12, I hit driver, 9-iron about ten feet.

13 was the longest putt I made all day. I hit driver, 8-iron about 15 feet.

17, I hit driver, sand wedge about a foot.

CHRIS REIMER: Good luck tomorrow.

VIJAY SINGH: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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