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January 9, 2004

Vijay Singh


THE MODERATOR: Vijay, thanks for coming by. Obviously, that was a tremendous playing today. It was a lot of fun to watch. Just comment on that Back 9. Really had it going, obviously.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't expecting all that. I was disappointed with the Front 9, obviously. I had a lot of chances. I bogeyed the 6th hole, which everybody was birdie-ing. Didn't make the birdie on the 9.

10th hole, told my caddie, "Just play solid golf. I'll get it in with 3- or 4-under, I will be happy." Just kept making birdies out there. Putter went hard. Made a great putt on the 12th hole, from 15, 18 foot. Maybe another one on 14. It wasn't long; it was about an 8-footer. Good putts on these greens to make. Another great one on 17.

So, you know, those ones add up to a good number, good up and down the last hole.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. You said on the Front 9 you were having a hard time, Back 9 you were doing well. A lot of players will talk about how difficult these greens are to putt. Are you surprised on how well you putted? What was the key do you think to that on the Back 9?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, you know, I tried too hard yesterday. You know, I played as good yesterday, but just did not make many putts. I missed maybe five, six putts from inside six feet yesterday.

Today, I went out there and I said, "Let's just hit your lines, not try to really make the putts, just hit your lines and stroke them." Putted well on the front side. Wasn't that I wasn't putting well, I just didn't make any. Back 9 started going in.

I hit it really close, too. I hit 10, 13, 2-putted 15, hit close on 16 and 18. Those were four four-foot or under putts, but still they were putts that were going in.

It's always good to make some long ones. Today was the first time I made -- made one on 17 from about 25 foot, and one on 12, about an 18-footer. They add up to be a good number.

I wasn't trying anything out there different. I just played my own game. If you play well, you can shoot low on this golf course. The fairways are quite generous. If you hit it nicely, you have a lot of wide-distance sand wedges there. The only difficulty about this golf course, you're either going uphill or downhill. That's a factor you have to deal with.

Q. The other day you were in here, you said by your own admission you don't consider yourself a great putter, you're a good putter. Is that about as well as you putted ever that Back 9?

VIJAY SINGH: I was a great putter on the Back 9 today (smiling). That's the way I like to putt all the time. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

I don't know. I mean, I'm still learning about putting. I've worked pretty hard. There's a little, few things that I try out. It's working this week. You know, keep going as long as she works. If it stops working, you try something else.

But, you know, I like the way I'm putting the ball now. I'm stroking it well. I think putting with a short putter, conventional length putter helped me out a little bit, made me feel the strokes again.

But right now I feel good about my putting.

Q. The tour record is eight birdies in a row. How tough is it going to be if it's Kona wind tomorrow on No. 1 to match that?

VIJAY SINGH: I think eight birdies in a round of golf is what it is. I've got to start fresh tomorrow. I had a good chance today. You know, I stuck it in there about 10 feet this morning, and didn't this afternoon.

But that's a tough hole to start off with, though. First two holes are really tough.

Q. Seems sort of artificial calling this a new year since you played three weeks ago. Does it feel like you're starting a new year, and starting it great?

VIJAY SINGH: We all start scratch, and we still have pressure out there. Standing on the first tee, you know it's the first tournament of the year. You feel a little pressured. But once you get going, I mean, it's fine.

I felt very comfortable out there. Didn't feel, you know, at all under pressure or anything. Just playing my game.

Q. By that token, does it seem like you're building on your finish from last year?

VIJAY SINGH: I try to forget about last year. Take the confidence from last year, take it into this year. But you try to focus on this year and now. I'm focusing on now. This is the moment right now. Don't get too far ahead of yourself, you know. Just focusing on this week and the present is what I want.

Q. Saying that, the focus on tomorrow, you've potentially eliminated a lot of guys going into tomorrow. Tiger is nine shots back. Ernie is even further back. Those were the guys that maybe a lot of us talked about, as well as yourself. How do you feel about that? What is your approach?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm going to go out there tomorrow and play as solid as I can. You know, I'm not going to play it safe or anything. I think it's a risk/reward golf course. If you take the risk, it's going to pay off. I'm driving the ball really well. I'm going to pull out my drivers like I did today, if the wind is the same.

Again, if I can shoot 9-under, they're capable of doing it similar or even better tomorrow. I just got to stick to my game and feel what I'm doing, don't worry about what other guys are doing, see if I can extend my, you know, lead even further tomorrow.

Q. What was the biggest risk you took today?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, 14 was a hard one to pull a driver out and hit it. 10 I pulled a driver, as well. You know, there were holes where normally people won't use driver, but I pulled a driver. Like 10, I don't think anybody used a driver but one or two guys.

But I made a birdie out of it, so that paid off.

Q. What about 13? Was that a driver hole?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm going to go to the next question.

Q. I guess that's a fair question. Is 13 a driver hole?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah. I've been hitting driver every time there.

Q. You were asked in a joking matter, there's still some daylight out there. Are you still going to have some work today?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, we always do that. A lot of guys don't do it, but I always go to the range when I finish. I have a routine that I go and wind down. You know, just feel that, you know, I'm through with the day. Go hit a few putts, get through with the day. My routine is always going to the range afterwards. I'm not about ready to change that.

Q. People talk about the way you finished last year, how strong. Do you really not look at it as being in a streak? Are you just playing the way you feel you're capable of or do you look at this as something you're riding for the last four or five months?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I'm swinging the club well. And when I finished last year, I played well - even the last tournament I played, I was swinging the club well. I only took two weeks off. So you can't go from swinging the club well for six months, coming over here, and totally losing it.

But I kept practicing. You know, I took three, four days off. I kept going to the range, kept in touch with the golf swing. You know, I was preparing for this week. You know, I was hitting shots for this week and doing things to, you know, chipping out of the Bermuda roughs to prepare for this week. So I was in tune when I came over here, I was prepared to play.

And with the swing still being there, I was confident I was going to do well.

Q. You won two majors. Have you ever been more confident about your game? Have you ever been swinging better, even after those majors?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, you keep playing well, your confidence rises. I feel very comfortable out there when I'm playing. I'm not fighting with my golf swing. If I hit a bad shot, it's just a bad shot for me. You know, I'm not going to say, "Well, what went wrong with my golf swing?" If I'm going to hit another good one again or no. I just go out and tee it up and hit it again. I'm not really fighting that I'm going to hit a bad swing on a golf club. I'm just going to go tee it up and see the shot and hit it. That's what I've been doing the last six, eight months. It's a good feeling to have.

I think my golf swing is in tune with me, and I just feel comfortable with it. I'm going to keep riding it as long as I can.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. I'm looking forward to the majors, and don't get too ahead of myself. I like to take it a week at a time, but it's still in the back of my mind that the bigger tournaments are what I'm looking forward to.

THE MODERATOR: Can we finish up the Back 9 with your putts.

VIJAY SINGH: 10, I hit driver, pitched it to about five feet.

13, hit driver, pitched it about three feet.

15, I hit it two on the green, 2-putted from 30 feet.

16, I hit driver, sand wedge, about five foot.

Q. Yesterday, Stuart shot 6-under on the back. Today you were 8-under on the back. In these wind conditions, does the back play a little bit easier than the front, tuning?

VIJAY SINGH: I think we got a little fortunate. I think the earlier starters, the wind was still strong when they were playing 18, 17. Yesterday, when we were finishing, we comfortably reached 18, and 17 as well. I hit 3-wood on 17.

I think, you know, playing late, when this Kona wind kind of dies down, I think we are a little bit lucky. I don't think it plays any easier; I just think we had the better side of the draw. Two hours, two and a half hours from the first guy that tees off. Wind normally dies down in the evenings. That's what's been happening.

If you drive the ball well, the backside is a lot easier to make birdies on also.

Q. Last year, Ernie shot 31-under. Is that unrealistic at this stage?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm not really worried about that at all. I'd take it right now and not even play. I think that's very unrealistic this week.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming by.

End of FastScripts.

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