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February 11, 2004

Vijay Singh


VIJAY SINGH: I played yesterday on the north course, and totally different greens. It makes you think a lot on the south course. It's going to be a great tournament, I think.


Q. How does a guy who has been around as long as you learn to be such a good putter when usually that's a skill that you have when you're younger? How do you explain?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, you learn how to putt like you learn how to hit any other shot. Last week I had a great putting round. I putted great with Phil. You know, maybe that's why he felt I was putting really good. But I do hit the ball pretty decent, too (laughter). So, you know, it's okay for other people to make putts on me; it's not okay for me to make putts on other people. I don't know.

My whole game has been good. You could see in Hawaii, the first three days I don't think I made a single putt, except for the last day, this is in Waialae.

How can I say, I'm very patchy with my putting. I putt good for two or three days, then not putt good. But last week, greens didn't bother me last week. I was just standing over a putt and just hitting it. I knew 90% of a chance I'm not going to make the putt. Most of them went in, so maybe that's how to think out here.

But when the greens are good, you put a good stroke on it, you make putts. That's probably what I've been doing.

Q. How is the fallout from the big win? How did you celebrate (inaudible)?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, it was a long week last week. You know, I just shook hands the last hole and said, "I'll call you." I called him yesterday. Everything was fine. I just flew in here Sunday night. That's all I did. I came back and had dinner with my trainer Joey. You know, we celebrated in our own way.

It was a good success for us both. That's how to do it.

Q. Now that you're a couple days removed, winning at Pebble, what are your fondest memories of that day, which you said is one of your favorite places?

VIJAY SINGH: Receiving the cup from Clint was the highlight of the whole week. He's my hero. He's been my hero for a long, long time. That's the first time I actually ever met him. That was the thrilling part of the whole thing.

But I played well. I played great with Teddy. You watch how he played, he was disappointed in the way he performed, it was a hard week for me because he wasn't playing well and I had to, you know, carry him along. Was kind of carrying two persons at one time.

But I had a good time. I mean, I had a good time with him, you know, with Phil, Chuck Schwab. It was great. It's a good way to finish the tournament. It's unfortunate I didn't win the team. Maybe next year.

Q. (Inaudible)?

VIJAY SINGH: Not really, no. I mean, he was off me (laughter).

Q. You said you're a big fan.

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, all those, you know, old westerns, spaghetti westerns. Outlaw Josey Wales is one of the best movies he played. Things like that. I watched all of his movies a few times over. I mean, he's not making great ones now, but he's probably directing more than he's making.

Q. Has your success kind of likely changed you mentally, too? Do you feel more intimidating and do you think maybe other players are more intimidated by you?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know about that. It's hard to say. I mean, I'm pretty focused out there on what I'm doing. I don't go on the range and start looking around and see what other people are thinking of me.

But they've been really good. Every player that's been out there has been really good. You know, congratulated me every time I played well. That's good to know that they all, you know, feel good about my game.

You know, I just feel like if I can go out there, and like I've been saying this many times, and take care of what I'm doing, you know. The rest of the guys, they probably follow me. They can see the drills I'm doing on the driving range. Quite a few guys are following that as well. They're always watching what I'm doing.

It's good to see that I've actually got some attention on me now. I guess that's about it, you know.

Q. Do you feel more confident? Do you feel something different mentally because of what you've been able to do?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, like this week here, I feel like -- I already feel like I'm going to play well. That's a good feeling. Used to be you come over here and you don't know how you're going to do, how your swing's going to turn out. But I feel like I can play well again.

I guess that's just the momentum that's carrying me through. You know, if I just get into contention, you know, come Saturday evening, that's the way I'm thinking, I'm going to have a good chance of winning the golf tournament.

I guess it's the way to think. If you think otherwise, you know, you're already giving yourself a handicap.

Q. In California the courses are so dramatically different. Last week you played on three different courses. This week you are going to play on what you said were completely different courses with regards to the putting and greens. How do you take what you've done over the last three weeks and approach a completely different course?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, we have chances to practice. That's why we have practice rounds. Yesterday I came over here. You know, the greens are the only thing that's going to be that much different. Tomorrow I'm playing the north course and I'm going to practice on the greens that play like the north course. That's the green up on the other side.

After tomorrow's round, I'm going to go back and start practicing the course that is -- the greens that make the south course. That's how we practice. It's two different setups out there, and we just deal with one at a time.

You know, we have two days to practice. I played these golf courses before, so it's nothing new. I don't have to go out there and find my way around. But the greens are the ones we have to deal with. We get the elevations and all different things, which way they roll. I've done most of that today.

Q. Tiger is saying there's no way he could play your schedule. How do you do it both physically and mentally? When do you know you're overtired or you need to take a break?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I mean, I've been doing this forever. You know, Ernie does this forever, too. Ernie plays a lot of tournaments. He doesn't play here, but he plays a lot overseas.

I guess, you know, the way I was brought up, I mean, I played a lot of golf. You know, come 20, 21, 30, 35, I just kept on playing. You know, that's how we made a living, was playing golf. You know, if you don't make the cut this week, you're going to try to do something next week. And that's how we played.

I guess it's just a habitual thing. I mean, you just go out there and play every week. I make my schedule, and I make 25 tournaments every year. I don't go out there and just make 15 or 16. What do you do the rest of the time? I'd be hitting balls probably, so I might as well play and earn money (laughter).

I just feel like I love playing golf tournaments, and that's the bottom line. You know, if I can do that and earn a lot of money, what is there better to do in this world than enjoy what you do?

Q. Following on that, do you get to the point where you're just exhausted sometimes?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I mean, you know, Sid has been saying to me if you're going to play Doral, that will be seven weeks in a row. I said, I don't know. My wife said, "You always play well in Doral." I said, "That will be seven weeks in a row." It's actually five weeks plus the Match Play, and you can be kicked out in one day in the Match Play. Everything depends on the Match Play.

I came over here and played, and normally I don't play LA. It really depends on how I play this week. If I don't play very well this week, I'm not playing next week. That's the way I think. It could change from week to week. If my body feels tired, if my focus has left, I will give it a break.

Q. You made up a lot of ground on Tiger in the World Golf rankings. Are you conscious of that?

VIJAY SINGH: I stopped looking at it I think two years ago when he had a lead of some 10 points. No matter what we did, you weren't going to catch him. And he's not slowing down either. He's playing pretty good every time he tees up.

But, you know, now it's so close, I mean, it catches our attention. I think they're going to do some shuffling of the rankings, as well, with the way they're going to do the points.

It's in many ways unfair on a guy that plays a lot of golf tournaments. I play a lot of golf tournaments. If you average it out, my average points are always going to be lower than his.

I don't know. I'm looking at it, but it's just a glance now and then.

Q. What are your earliest tournament memories as a youngster? How old were you? How good were you? Were you head and shoulders above your peers?

VIJAY SINGH: When I was in Fiji, I was a pretty good amateur playing. But, you know, being a good amateur in Fiji, then when I went to Australia, I was just like a six handicap in Australia. But it took me a long time to really feel, you know, how they played and how they scored, how good I can get.

It's been a long, long process. But when I turned pro, I did turn pro in school, I won the tour school there the first time. That was one of the achievements that, you know, was big for me, coming from Fiji, playing the tour school in Australia for the first time and winning it. I don't know if you guys know the late Roger Mackay, he finished second. He was the star in Australia then.

My first ever pro tournament was in Adelaide, I think. I didn't know how to hit the ball on the first tee, it was just so scary for me to stand up there and try to play golf. But I managed to get through that. I missed the cut. But that was my first experience.

It's totally a different feel when I tee it up now and when I think back, say, "I've come a long way since."

Q. Did you love tournament golf as much then as you do now? Did you become a better player when you became intrigued with competition?

VIJAY SINGH: Different stages. I loved it then because that was a way to make money. You know, when I teed it up then, it was like, "Gosh, I got to make the cut, otherwise I don't know how I'm going to go to the next tournament, so I'm going to earn some money."

Over here it's a different story. You're just thinking about winning a golf tournament. It's totally a different level of the way you think.

Q. The money is pretty much covered?

VIJAY SINGH: The money is pretty well covered, yes (laughter).

Q. (Inaudible) for a guy that likes to hit balls as much as you do every day, how hard was it not to when you got home?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I don't know, I never thought I could injure myself putting a glove underneath my armpit. Then it went from a glove to a little squeeze ball that was soft. I just put it in there and started hitting balls. It felt good. Then it started to hurt a little bit. I said, "Well, could just go away, maybe a muscle thing." I hit a lot of balls that day, I remember. It was Monday. Gosh, it was raining. I just kept on pounding balls. I was trying to work on one particular part of my golf swing. The only way I fix it is to go out there and hit it and fix it.

When I finished hitting it, I just said, "Man, this hurts a lot." I went to the PGA. He said, "You may have pulled a muscle or something." The trainer went in there and gave me a really deep massage. I don't think that helped at all (laughter).

You know, come Thursday, I was practicing and I just couldn't hit it. I went away home, had an MRI done. They say it was a cracked rib.

Q. Cracked rib?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. So, I mean, it was hard. I mean, I went on a little break, came back. I just couldn't do anything. I mean, it was hard to breathe at times.

You know, after about two weeks, I started chipping. I chipped a lot and putted a lot. It didn't hurt when I putted. That's probably why I'm putting so well now (laughter).

Q. The weight room, you have all kinds of new toys. How many square feet is that? It's built onto the side of your house?

VIJAY SINGH: We have a weight area downstairs and a cardio area upstairs. You pretty much got all the equipment I need to carry me through till I'm 50 (laughter).

Q. You mentioned your trainer. Can you tell us a bit about him?

VIJAY SINGH: He used to tour with Bruce Springsteen. I think he was his trainer and his body guard, as well. He knows how to handle himself. He's been great. I think he's one of the, you know, how can I say, backbone, you know, he's pushed me so hard the last two years. I should give him a lot more credit than anybody else out there because, you know, he's in the gym with me in the mornings and in the evenings every day, you know, two times a day, five, six days a week. When I go home, he's there at home doing the same thing.

You know, he's really pushed me to a point where, you know, that's why I'm playing so well, I think. I feel physically really fit. He's a great motivator, as well. Physically I don't know.

If you talk to Joey, "What did you do today?"

"I went for a 10-mile run, I swam for an hour, I did weights." That's what he does every day. He works with me and then he goes and does his own thing and then works with me again. He's unbelievable. He's really an unusual individual.

He had cancer when he was 18. Nobody knows of that. He's come a long ways since then.

Q. (Inaudible)?

VIJAY SINGH: I just call him Joey D. It's an Italian name. He's originally from New Jersey, I think. New Joisey. He lives in Ponte Vedra next door to me. No, I'm kidding (laughter).

Q. The streak is an adjunct to what you'redoing during the year. How important is the streak at this point, the fact that you might be supplanting someone that might be the best player of all time?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't think I'll ever be able to do that. If you look at the streak, I was looking at it the other day, I mean, he's had 12 -- I think it was three times 12-in-a-row streak, and one time 13, one time 14, wasn't it? I don't think I can ever supplant that.

You know, I'm not really thinking about the streak. I really am not thinking about the streak. I'm not thinking about how many Top 10s I've had. I wasn't even aware of that until guys started talking about it. It's just like the cut streak I had. When you start thinking about it, I said, "Wow, thank God it was over." Stop thinking about it.

I just hope this doesn't end. But surely it's going to end one day. One of these weeks it will. I can't just keep doing it.

I'm just going to go out there, like I said, and try to play the best I can. If I make the streak, that's fine. If I don't, it's not going to hurt me at all.

Q. With you playing so well and Phil and Tiger, what are your thoughts on some of these tournaments inviting like Michelle Wie (inaudible)?

VIJAY SINGH: See, they can invite all the women they want to; they can't beat me (laughter). I have nothing against women. If they want to invite 20 of them, go ahead. I mean, it's not going to affect me at all.

Q. Completely off the wall, what was the luckiest shot you ever hit in competition that you remember?

VIJAY SINGH: I think I had a hole-in-one in France one year. I think that was the luckiest in a lot of ways. I wasn't making a lot of money at that time. They had a car for a hole-in-one. My wife was right there. I ball just spun back in the hole. She started yelling. I said, "Wow, how much are we going to get for it?"

Q. Never turned the ignition?

VIJAY SINGH: No, that was gone before I ever walked out of the golf course.

Q. What year was that?

VIJAY SINGH: '89 maybe.

Q. You seem so much more comfortable in this environment than you have been in the past. Is that just time, age, what you experienced last year? You're cracking up in here.

VIJAY SINGH: The questions I've been asked is better than what I've been asked last year, so... That's it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

VIJAY SINGH: Nobody. I don't think it's anything to do with anybody. Mike came to Tucson, Arizona, Teddy, we just had dinner together, it was nothing to do with having a talk with me.

You know, a lot of things happened last year. I'm still not going to come into this press room unless I have to. That's the way I'm going to do it for a while until I feel a lot more comfortable, so...

Q. You seem very comfortable now.

VIJAY SINGH: I've always been comfortable. You guys made me uncomfortable, you know (laughter). But I'm always the same. I don't think I've changed a bit. You see the serious side of me when I'm playing golf tournaments. You cannot just switch off and on when you leave the golf course. You have to be in that frame of mind for a little while until you get out of this environment and get into your room, then you can kind of relax.

But, you know, like Fowler said one time, he tried to behave the same way when he leaves the first tee till when he goes home. You have to have that intense focus all the time. I've been kind of like that, as well. People take it the wrong way. But I'm a nice guy, I think.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Vijay. Play well this week.

VIJAY SINGH: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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