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April 26, 2004

Vijay Singh


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'd like to welcome the 2004 champion of the Shell Houston Open, Vijay Singh. Congratulations on your 17th PGA TOUR victory and your 2nd victory here at the Shell Houston Open. Can we start with some opening comments? Long week for you but obviously a fruitful one for you.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, every time there's a rain delay that finishes on Monday, I think I win (laughter). I think it's a blessing that it finished like this, but we had a great day today. The weather turned really good. It was unfortunate that we had such a bad weekend, but fortunately for me, we finished today.

I played really well, regardless of how bad the weather was. I struck the ball well today and I struck it really good -- did not make a bogey on the weekend or the last two rounds, and that stands out. I'm really pleased with the way I played, and I'm glad that I finished the way I did. I didn't make a mistake coming down the stretch and just played.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: You've been able to close the last six times you've held a share of the 54-hole lead. Is that something that comes with experience and becoming a better player.

VIJAY SINGH: I think every time I'm in the lead I'm playing well obviously, but a lot of times when you go into the lead, you don't feel comfortable with your golf game when you've made a lot of putts and all that. The last few times when I did go into the lead I've been striking the ball well so when do you that you don't feel threatened that someone else is going to overtake you or you're going to play badly, so you just let your game do the talking.

Today I was so comfortable out there. I drove the ball beautifully and I missed literally two greens on the weekend, and both of them were right there, a yard or so left of the green.

If you keep doing that, I think everything is very comfortable when you do that.

Q. Zinger said before the round you were feeling awfully confident, kind of playing with him before the round a little bit. I'm just wondering when did you really start to feel this week like your game was coming? You started striking the ball second round, but when did you feel like you --

VIJAY SINGH: I played well the first day, as well. I just did not make any putts. I putted pretty average, but coming here, I played well on the Pro-Am, I shot 6-under on the Pro-Am. I was driving the ball really well, so whenever I'm driving the ball well, it feels like the game is there. I started off yesterday not driving it well. I missed a lot of fairways, but I was just missing the fairway and hitting a lot of greens.

I had a great Masters, just one hole kind of killed me every day. If you take that hole away, I would have played well there. So I had a lot of confidence after The Masters. I had a great week off and had some good practice done, so I was ready to play when I came here. I felt good and comfortable and confident about how I was going to strike the ball.

Q. How important is it -- one, you were in a tough spot trying to get up-and-down and you made a nice birdie putt there. How much did that have to do with your having a good frame of mind early?

VIJAY SINGH: It's always nice to start off with a birdie, but the par 5s play totally different. One was playing driver, middle iron the beginning of the week, and today you couldn't get up. Same thing with I think 15. I don't think anyone got up today except for the longer hitters.

If I don't make birdies on par 5s I feel like I've given one away. Starting off on the first hole, which is a par 5, I had made a birdie there. Then I hit it close on 3, so that was a tap-in. I played solid and I had a lot of chances for birdies. I had a short birdie putt on 9 that I missed, so I didn't birdie 12, another par 5. You know, I made the birdies when it counted. I had a good chance on 11 that I made and I made one on 15. When you birdie those -- you don't necessarily have to hit the par 5s in two. Not every short hitter gets on a par 5 in two, but if you miss the fairway or miss the green on a par 5 in two, you've got to think that way, that not everybody is going to hit it in two. You just give yourself a good chance for a birdie, and that's what I tried to do out there.

Q. Are you aware that Scott Hoch was getting close to you or John Daly was making a run?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, when I made the turn I was 9 under, and I think Daly was 8. I don't know what Scott was, but I think Scott was 8, as well. I was aware what was going on, but I didn't let that bother me. I said go ahead and play a solid back nine and make one or two birdies and we'll see what happens. I made two birdies and that was enough.

Q. What do you think -- with all the wins that you've had, that you've started to build up over the years, what do you think you're going to look back at on this one that will characterize this week?

VIJAY SINGH: The way I played. I really played -- I think today was the best I've played for a long, long time. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of good shots. It wasn't an easy day. The wind was up, and if you're in the lead it's even harder. I struck the ball really solid from tee to green. I think I missed one fairway, the par 5, the 12th hole, and tried to hit a big drive there.

Looking back, I'd like to play this way every day if I can because -- not because I won, just because the way I struck the ball was really solid.

Q. Are they running out of places in Houston for you to try and win? You've won the TPC, you've won here.

VIJAY SINGH: I hope so. I'll keep doing it if they do.

Q. You also won the Nelson last year. Do you like Texas or do you think this time of year, the weather, or --

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know, I just think --

Q. Do you like Mexican food?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I don't know. Taco Bell (laughter)? I just think that the warmer weather -- when it gets a little warmer I play well. My body is not too young anymore, and I'm coming in from a tropical country, and I'm adjusted to warmer weather more easily. It's so much easier on your back, as well. You don't wake up with a stiff back or things like that, and when your body is feeling good, I think your golf swing just kind of falls in place. For some reason I hit it longer when it's warmer, so that should tell you -- I guess everybody does that.

Q. I know that the weather delays are annoying for players, but it also meant that the course played long and things like that. Did you feel like that was going to kind of play into your hands today, that it was going to play long?

VIJAY SINGH: I knew it was going to play long, but I was kind of a little worried yesterday because when I left the golf course I was not hitting my driver as good as I've been hitting it. I missed -- I think I hit three fairways in the first 13 holes yesterday. The rain delay did good in the one sense that I went back and thought about my swing. I hit good drives this morning and drove it unbelievably. When you do that under wet conditions like it was here, we hit a lot of fairways, you're going to have a lot of shots at the green and a lot of opportunities for birdies, and that's what I did.

I knew that Scott playing 18, playing 17, it was going to be hard to make birdies on those two. I just felt comfortable. I just said hit the fairways and give yourself chances for birdies. I wasn't threatened that he was going to birdie one of the two holes coming in. 16 was playing downwind, so that was the only hole I thought he had a good chance of making a birdie, but he didn't do that.

Q. Were you just so comfortable all day that there wasn't any real momentum thing?

VIJAY SINGH: I needed one more birdie coming in, and I got that on 16 -- 15, sorry. I think that was the key hole for me. That kind of gave me a two-shot lead, and if you give me a two-shot lead with three holes to go, I think I can handle it, and that's what I did.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: If we could go over your score card and we'll take one or two last questions. Talk about the birdie on the 1st hole, par 5.

VIJAY SINGH: I hit a good drive, good second shot, just leaked it to the left a little bit, trying to avoid the right bunker, pitched it about 10, 15 feet, made that.

3, I hit a 7-iron to about a foot, didn't birdie anything else except 11, I hit a driver, 9-iron about 8 feet.

15, I hit driver, 3-wood, hit somebody on the chest or on the arm. It was okay because I played to the left of the green, and I chipped it about -- it was a good 10-footer that I made there.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Did you have a pretty good lie there? It looked like the ball checked up.

VIJAY SINGH: It was okay. I had good grooves.

Q. Would you talk about the tournament overall, why you like playing here, why you chose to play here and just how they did here this weekend?

VIJAY SINGH: It's always been in my schedule to play Houston. The weather is always pretty good and they always have a good golf course. You know, when I pick a tournament to play, I look at especially the weather and the golf course.

The golf course is very important for me, and I think that this is a great golf course for me. It's long. You have to hit a lot of drivers, and it turned out that unfortunately it rained a lot, but the first two days the golf course was playing really, really tough, fast and hard. That's what we're all looking for is hard and firm fairways and good ball strikers kind of come -- kind of get ahead that way. The golf course is tough and you'll see good players coming up to the top.

Q. Is there any more sense of satisfaction in winning a tournament where 11-unders are winning where you really have to -- where birdies are tough to come by?

VIJAY SINGH: The first two days -- the second day they watered the greens too much, but if they didn't, it would have been, gosh, I think 7-under leading after two days -- was it 7?

Q. 5.

VIJAY SINGH: That should tell you how tough the course was playing. I think if it's hot and firm on a golf course as tough as this, that's what we need. Very few times we do that and very few times we play a golf course it's tough, so it's good that we play courses like this. I wish we played them more often.

Q. How much different was the atmosphere out there today than a final round on Sunday?

VIJAY SINGH: When it started off, it was like playing a Pro-Am, nobody watching really, but as it built up and started the final round, I think we all knew what was going on. The atmosphere is how you stand at a tournament, and if you're in contention, you can make your own intensity if you want.

Q. It must be very satisfying to win on two courses as different as the two you've won on in Houston.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, it is. I mean, it's still another golf tournament. I mean, I've won a lot of golf tournaments, not all on the same golf course, it so happens in Houston.

This is a good golf course. The TPC was a good golf course, too, the Woodlands. That's a tough golf course. The winning score is never low there unless it's very wet, and this one here is wet and it's longer than Woodlands, so that's why the scores did not go that low. But I'm glad, I'm happy where I'm at.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I'd like to just mention that Vijay along with John Huston was the winner of this week's Crestor Charity Challenge as the 54-hole leaders. The Boys and Girls Harbor from this area will receive $50,000 from the Shell Houston Open and also Vijay will receive $25,000 to donate to the health-related charity of your choice, so congratulations there and congratulations on a great week, Vijay.

End of FastScripts.

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