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September 15, 2003

Vijay Singh


TODD BUDNICK: We welcome our champion of the 2003 John Deere Classic, Vijay Singh. Vijay, your first trip here and your first victory. How hard is that to do?

VIJAY SINGH: I don't think it's hard to do that, just depending on how you're playing. The golf course suits me a little bit. It suits the long hitters. The par 5s are reachable, and I just played well this week. I managed to maintain my focus all week, even with the rain delays and all that and just came out there and hit the ball like I did days before.

It was a good victory and a lot goes with that. I worked so hard, and I just feel like I wanted one more victory before the end of the year, and it came now. I can focus on the rest of the year and see if I can pull another one off.

TODD BUDNICK: It's your third of the season, so you move to 1st on the money list, so you certainly have thrown your name into the ring for Player of the Year now, too.

VIJAY SINGH: I've been asked so many times about Player of the Year. Again, I say that I'll have to think about that when the season is finished and see how it plays. I still think that the guys that won the Majors, they're still in the running. Mike Weir I think might be, but we'll have to wait and see at the end of the year.

TODD BUDNICK: Goals for the year, you mentioned you want to win again, and you have The Presidents Cup down the line.

VIJAY SINGH: Yeah, I really would like to win again. If I can maintain the money ranking, that's my goal is to really be able to win the money list just once before I finish. This will probably be the best opportunity that I get. I have another three events in the States to go. I just have to focus on that and see if I can pull another one off. If I can win one more time, I think I've got it sealed.

Q. Atlanta, Tour Championship, and the third one is?


Q. J.L. talked about the fact that maybe having had 13 wins under your belt, you play a little different than other guys in that last round, a little more calm. He said it's like you've been there before and are not as bothered. Is that true?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, yes and no. Yes, I'm comfortable playing in the lead; but then again, if you're not playing well, it's going to be hard to do that. A lot of guys, if they're in the lead and not playing well, they manage to scrape around a good round or have good putting days. I played well all week, and if I'm playing well and if I'm in the lead and playing well, I just have no worries of what can go wrong. I just go out there and play and trust the way I'm playing and hit the ball where I am aiming.

That's what I did today. I felt like I had control over the game, control over where the ball was going to go. The only thing that was holding me back the last four or five weeks was my putting. I didn't putt great today, but I didn't putt badly. I made a few putts coming in, and I guess if the pressure was a little off, I would have made more putts.

Q. You talked before about maintaining your focus. Can you talk about how tough that is to do when a final round is played over two days and you still play it bogey-free?

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, you do a lot of complaining amongst yourselves in the locker room, but once they tell you what time you need to play and what are your tee times, your mindset goes to that, just like the first two days. It's just hard stopping and starting again. I was fortunate to finish my second round in time and come out yesterday after the day off Saturday, so that kind of throws you off.

In the middle of a tournament you don't hit balls or do nothing all day, so what do you do. That kind of throws a lot of players off. I came yesterday with a lot of focus in mind knowing that if I was hitting the ball well that everything would be okay.

Q. You burned a lot of edges it seemed like early today. Did you feel like eventually those would fall?

VIJAY SINGH: I've been doing that for a while. You've got to remain patient. If you start forcing it, then you're going to make bogeys. I did not force any putts to go in and made sure I didn't leave myself any second putts, and that was the key for this win. The last two days I didn't really have a long second putt, and if you can maintain and do that throughout the round, something is going to drop, and that's what happened.

Q. You talked a couple days ago about you're at the point now where you're not fighting your golf swing, you just trust it. Is it chicken before the egg, is that what allows you to be calm and feel good about yourself in pressure situations, or is it feeling good allows your swing to be consistent?

VIJAY SINGH: I think the swing has to be good. I've worked hard on the swing and it feels comfortable to me. Once it starts to feel comfortable, then you know where the ball is going to go. I've hit a lot of balls on the range to get the swing where it needs to be. If I can hit good shots on the range before the round, then I don't have to worry about if it's going to go left to right. I've been doing that quite comfortably for three, four weeks.

Q. So your attitude follows the swing, not the other way around?

VIJAY SINGH: I think so. It kind of goes either way. One follows the other. If your attitude is good and the swing is good, I think it both just flows, and that's what happens.

Q. You said today and the other day that the money list was more important to you than Player of the Year. Why?

VIJAY SINGH: Well, I mean, money list obviously is going to dictate if you're Player of the Year or not. My goal is to win the money list. Player of the Year is not up to me. I can play the best golf, but somebody has to choose who the Player of the Year is. It doesn't work that way, I can control the money list, I cannot control the Player of the Year. My goal is to be the top of the money list, now it is, since I'm leading. It wasn't in the beginning of the year, I just wanted to win a lot more tournaments.

From today onwards, I've got three events here and that's what I'm going to focus on is those three events and see if I can pull one off; and if I can pull that off, then it should be.

Q. This is your first visit to this course and to, I believe, this tournament. Having had a successful week in trying conditions, what are your thoughts on this event?

VIJAY SINGH: I mean, it's a good event. I think the fans are really into it, which is very good. They're very well-behaved. They don't yell around like a few of the other golf tournaments do.

The golf course is a very fair golf course. If you play well, you're going to be rewarded. There's a lot of trouble out there and you can find it. Great par 3s, I think it's one of the best par 3 golf courses you can find. It has long, short, you have to hit it, and I was lucky to come play it.

Q. Obviously next year with being ahead of the British Open, that kind of creates a problem for you.

VIJAY SINGH: I just kind of announced that I was going to come, and then someone told me it's the week before the British Open. I'm going to see how I'm doing and how I'm playing and how my schedule is. It's still very early. I still have a good feeling that I'm going to come back and play it. It's not a definite, but probably 70 percent.

Q. All three of the second-place guys say the thing about Vijay, he keeps hitting it 15, 10, 15, 10, 20. If you do that often enough, you're going to give yourself enough opportunities, sooner or later something is going to go in. Is that your feeling, that your swing is so accurate that you have the comfortable feeling that if I keep hitting it like this, I'm going to make some putts eventually and I will be rewarded for this consistent accuracy?

VIJAY SINGH: I'm not a bad putter. I've never been a bad putter, but I've never been a great putter. I've occasionally been very good, but I've been very consistent. Two years ago I was No. 4 on the putting and that's the best I've ever been. I work a lot on my putting and I don't hit bad putts, they just don't go in sometimes. Hopefully in the future they will, but I'm very comfortable with what I'm doing.

I like the way I'm playing golf right now, I'm not fighting with my golf swing like I said. I'm getting more and more consistent and working on the right things. I don't work on ten different things. I don't come the following week and try something new. I work on set things and they fall in place, and now it has fallen into place hopefully, and hopefully I can maintain it as long as I play.

Q. You're on a long streak where you haven't had any time off in a while. In a situation like this where you're playing, not playing, that could wear a person down mentally. In a long stretch like you played, how were you able to maintain your focus and play through that?

VIJAY SINGH: You just have to deal with that. I've been around the game long enough to know that things like that happen, and this is not the first rain delay that I have ever been in. It's nice to be in a rain delay when you're playing well. You don't feel like you need to leave as soon as you finish, but my focus really was I thought I could win the tournament after the second day, and that was my mindset was to play the best I can and see if I could win. I didn't let anything else interfere.

TODD BUDNICK: If we could just go through your birdies on your bogey-free final round.

VIJAY SINGH: Yesterday on 2, I hit driver, 5-wood to about ten feet, two-putted.

4, I hit a driver, 9-iron, I think, to about eight feet.

8, I hit a driver, pitching wedge about ten feet.

14, I hit driver to the green, putted up to about a foot.

16, I hit 9-iron about 20 feet.

17, driver, laid up with a 6-iron, hit 9-iron about ten feet.

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Vijay, and congratulations once again.

End of FastScripts.

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