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October 26, 2003

Vijay Singh


JOAN vT ALEXANDER: First of all, Vijay, congratulations on being the new champion of the Funai Championship at Walt Disney World Resort and also for taking over the top spot on the season Money List with two tournaments to go.

Why don't you make a couple comments on both of those subjects, and then we'll go into questions.

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I'm really happy to take over the Money List. I was leading going into the American Express and then I was really disappointed about my finish over there, although I finished second, but to lose that over there the way I did. I thought I had a good chance of winning it.

And then to come over here and play well, especially on bermudagreens that I don't normally like putting on, but this week was something out of the extraordinary. I putted great and hit the ball pretty good off the tees, which you need over here. I think my putter was the one that won the golf tournament. That's a good feeling.

Q. Was the chip-in early on what got you going? Was that as tough as it maybe looked?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, it wasn't a difficult chip to get up-and-down. Any time you chip in, it's always difficult to do. But I was confident to get up-and-down. I was just trying to get it close to the hole and it went in. I think I was a little fired up not making birdie the hole before, especially I hit a 6-iron in there.

But played well. I hit the all, obviously in play and was never in any sort of trouble. I tried really hard to mess up especially on 13 and 16, with wedges in my hand. I was really disappointed about those two holes, but apart from that, I played well, putted well and finished well.

Q. Over a stretch of time, say the last two months, six weeks, something along those lines, did the thought ever cross your mind that "right now, I'm playing the best golf in the world"; a lot of people have said that. I know you're focus the in the moment, but do you feel like right now for a stretch of time do you feel like No. 1?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't know. I think I only feel like No. 1 if I take over the No. 1 spot. But I'm playing well now. I'm playing the best that I can play right now. And it's a good feeling to go out there knowing that you've got a chance of winning the golf tournament every time you tee it up. That's the way I feel.

And to go out there and do it is another big thing. It's a good way to play golf. You tee up and you have a lot of confidence and you're not feeling physically very strong about it. Your physical condition, at the same time, with the way you're playing, the combination is great. I feel -- I don't feel tired. I feel just all I can do is go out and just hit the shots and play. If I can do that the way I'm doing right now, it doesn't matter if I'm No. 1 or not. I'm enjoying my game and enjoying what I'm doing. It's a good way to play golf.

Q. Have you ever been more confident than you are now in the last few years?

VIJAY SINGH: You know, I hope not because I don't think I've had this kind of performance ever. It's been going on for a long time. I just hope I don't wake up from this dream.

Q. Why is this happening for you at age 40, why are you having your career year and why has everything come together in your mind?

VIJAY SINGH: Why, maybe because I've hit a million balls and because I've been out there the longest forever and maybe because I've just dedicated and wanted more. I've worked hard through throughout my career. I'm working hard physically and with any golf game and I haven't slowed down.

I think through, in the last few years, my physical side probably may have been lacking and boosting that part of my game up, starting to get stronger, I think my golf game just went up a notch more. I think the catch right there.

Q. You said several times that you really wanted to win the money title, do you feel that this is your best opportunity more because you're not sure if you're going to sustain this level in years, or you don't feel Tiger is going to provide the opening again or maybe a combination?

VIJAY SINGH: Let me think about that. (Laughs).

I don't know. I'm in the best position to win the money title. I'm playing well. I've got two tournaments to go and I'm playing one extra tournament. If I'm playing next week and he wins the week after, he ain't going to beat me. (Laughter.) But that's my goal. I'm going to go out there and try to do the best I can and have a good, strong finish.

The tournament we're playing, the Tournament of Champions -- THE TOUR Championship, it's a big money title, money tournament. And everybody makes something there and maybe if I have a good finish, I don't have to win on the money title. But that's not my concern. My concern is next week and I'm going to go there and see if I can do the best I can and not worry about anybody else but me. Work as hard as I've been doing and see what happens.

If I don't win the money title, it's not going to kill me. Obviously I would be disappointed but I'm going to go out there next year and try again. It's not end of the world for me if I don't win the money title.

Q. What makes Davy such a good caddie and what has he brought to your performance since he's been on the bag?

VIJAY SINGH: I think my playing makes him a better caddie. (Laughter.) Before I had Davy, I was still winning, too. He's just a confident little guy. He knows the situation. He doesn't get nervous. He's a good guy to have on the bag under the gun. The caddie I had before was also great. It really depends on how you play. If you're playing well, the caddie is great. If you're playing bad the caddie is hopeless. You know, I think it's a combination of how you are playing and how the caddie is going. And Davy has been around forever. I'm comfortable with him and he's a good guy to have on the bag.

Q. Inaudible -- how do we learn before you if you don't talk to us?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, if you talk to me and write what I say, it's an easier way of communicating. If I talk to you and you don't write what I say, I can't have that. You've got to quote what I say. That's the bottom line.

Q. We talked to Tiger earlier about responsibility as a player out here and how they are more than just between the ropes, what do you feel your responsibilities are as a player to not only the media, but to the TOUR and to the tournament itself?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the Tour loves me and I love the Tour. I think I get along very well with the TOUR. I think the fans out there are very supportive of me playing the way I've been playing. I have not had that much problems with fans all my life. With the media, that's another story. I think the media thinks they all control the field and the fan rides on that. You just have to go back and see a few months ago. Everything was fine until the controversy came on and then the media kind of gets into the play. It's those things, kind of hurt me. If it hurts me, it hurts you guys, too, because I will not talk to you guys if that's the case.

Over time I will get comfortable and start talking again, right like now, I'm comfortable. I've never been uncomfortable in the media room, but now I'm very uncomfortable talking to media guys separately because I just cannot trust what you're going to write. It's been going on forever, it's not only with me, but it's with other sports. And you keep reading it over and over again what the media writes is not what the people say and that's it. That's what I've got to say about that.

Q. -- assigning yourself as one of the better players of your era, how important is that to you?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, when I retire, I would like people to know that at the turn of the century I was one of the better players out here. It's a great feeling to have that because you know, you work all your life and there's a lot of people out there that support you and it's good to be known as one of the best players in the game in your time. I think now I can rest peacefully to know that.

Q. You said a little earlier but hope you didn't wake up from a dream, back a long time ago when you were at the lowest, when you were a club pro and didn't know where you were going to be headed could you ever have dreamed this, could you ever allow yourself to think that you might one day reach this level?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, if I start thinking that far back I'll probably wake up from this dream.

I don't know, it's I can't say -- you put me in that situation, gosh, I was thinking about the next day, not really thinking about what's going to happen in two, three ten years from then. I was starting to think how I'm going to hit next day or how many lessons you are going to have the next day.

It's so far away, and I don't wish anybody to be in that position, especially myself. A lot of times I wake up or think about the times that I was back there, it's really, it's like a dream come true. I don't wish anybody to be in that position, especially not me anymore anyway. I just would rather not think about that and think about what's happening right now and go from there.

Q. Do you worry about what your image is or do you wish you had a different image?

VIJAY SINGH: No. I'm very comfortable with my image. I'd like to have a little bit better relationship with the media. But it's just that I may be haven't given a chance to get comfortable with you and if I do get comfortable if something else happens. My image I'm comfortable. I'm playing the best golf of my life. I have a lot of fans, family that really support me more than you can ever think about. I have a great family, a great team of people working with me and I'm No. 1 on the Money List right now. I'm very comfortable with myself. It's just that I don't think the media is comfortable with me and you're not giving me a chance to get comfortable with you. If you do that, I don't know, it's -- time will tell.

Q. When did you first have Davy on the bag?

VIJAY SINGH: U.S. Open first week.

Q. You said that you were playing well before then and obviously you're playing well now. What was the reason for the change?

VIJAY SINGH: I just wasn't getting along with my caddie. We just had some problems. We just weren't communicating good enough, and it came to, it was time for a change really. Now, if you can't communicate with your caddie, it just wasn't clicking. And outside of the golf course, we were fine. Outside of the golf course we were not a team anymore and so it's time for a change. It was a positive exchange. He's a good guy. He's a great friend of mine still. We just couldn't work together.

Q. You said you wouldn't feel like No. 1 unless you were No. 1, obviously your goal is to win the money title, is it your goal in the next three years to be the No. 1 player in the world?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. It's out there. If I keep playing the way I am, I can do that. I give myself another five years -- from five years until now, to see how I stand. It's going to be really hard to get Tiger from the No. 1 spot; he's playing so well every week. I just have to match and play better than that, I feel like in the next few years. We'll have to wait and see.

Q. Enough about the money title. You've got four wins now, TOUR championship. Player of the Year thing is not exactly a slam dunk.

VIJAY SINGH: It's not up to me to decide. I feel like if I win the money title, I have a good chance of winning the Player of the Year. If I don't win the money title, then I have no chance. That's the way I feel. But the players have to decide that. It's a matter of time to see what happens in the next two weeks.

Q. You mentioned earlier that being more physically fit than you have in the past, maybe is one of the reasons why you're playing as well as you are right now. What do you think if Tiger had not come out that way that you would not have spent as much time as you have been in the gym?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. Obviously Tiger, he raised the bar for everybody. He started shooting scores, unheard of and he was hitting the ball a long, long ways at that time. I think that it was a time for a change. I think the change has come with Tiger. Guys have been going to the gym and working on the physical side more and more and Tiger just kind of came on at the right time and just promoted all that -- man, I've been working before Tiger came on TOUR but not as physically as I'm doing right now. But a lot of guys you just have to go into the gyms to find out who is working and who is not doing it. The young generation of guys that's coming out of colleges, they look like they are ready to take anybody on.

I think it's just a change. In a matter of time there will be is guys 6'7 playing golf and hitting the ball forever. You see Michael Jordan out there hitting balls, guys like that, I think maybe bigger guys and stronger guys. Fifteen years from now they are going to laugh at how long we hit it now because it's just a change. Technology and physically stronger athletes are going to come on TOUR and play.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Can we go through your birdies and bogeys starting on 2?

VIJAY SINGH: 2, I hit a driver, sand wedge about 15 feet.

5, I hit driver, 7-iron just left of the green and chipped in from about 25 foot.

8, I hit a driver, 3-iron, sand wedge about 30 feet.

10, I hit driver, 7-iron about 30 feet and 2-putted.

12, I hit a 7-iron about 40 feet.

13, I hit a 5-wood, L-wedge and tried to blast out about eight feet and missed it.

14, I hit driver, 5-iron, sand wedge about four feet.

16, driver, pitching wedge over the green, chipped it about 15 foot.

18, I hit driver, pitching wedge about -- what was that, about 30 feet, 35 feet.

Q. You've won $5 million or whatever it is now, you're leading the Money List, is there one story that you tell about way back when with you were in Borneo where you literally had no money?

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, there's a lot of stories. Oh, man, I don't know if I want to go through that again, it's been published so many times.

Q. Is there one point in your career that you can point to where you said your own mind, "I've arrived, I'm in the upper echelon," European Tour, PGA TOUR, and from there you pulled yourself?

VIJAY SINGH: I think when I won the first tournament over here in the States. I mean I got my tour card and I was just getting on, and when I won Westchester for the first time I really felt, "this is it." This is where I wanted to play and I won, and I can improve on that.

I was always worried about keeping my card over here. I won that event, and like you said: This is it, I have two years exemption and I can go out and play and be myself and play comfortable golf, which I've done and I just -- I think that was the start of my, I would say, my career over here.

Q. Did you have a number in mind this morning that you thought you needed to shoot to have a decent chance today; and at the end of the day you finished 23-under, 67, are you surprised you won by four?

VIJAY SINGH: Very much. Yesterday I was surprised that so many guys shot low numbers yesterday. And going out today the wind was kind of -- pretty much nothing out there. I was -- I started out slow and I was surprised that had nobody else was doing anything. Furyk was 6-under through nine and I said, "Well, there's one guy that's taking the course apart."

Apart from that, nobody else did anything and I think Tiger had a late run. I just said go, out there and play consistent. Don't make any mistakes and see what happens. I think after the 10th hole, my 12th hole, I looked up and I said I have a three-shot lead and that was -- I was really surprised that I had a three-shot lead at that time. And then I played steady from there on and the winning score I thought was going to be around 24, 25.

Q. Do you practice as much as you do because you enjoy it or is that just a necessary evil to play at the level you're at?

VIJAY SINGH: Kind of both. A lot of times I go out there and I practice because I need to practice and a lot of times, I go out there because I just feel like I want to practice and it's what I enjoy doing. It kind of happens together. I don't practice as much as I used to if I go out there and start hitting balls for two hours and hit it well, there's no point in staying out there and start hitting badly. So you kind of get comfortable with what you're doing and it feels good, you leave and go to the next part of your game.

JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you, Vijay, for joining us and congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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